The Browns have said goodbye to defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. They still haven’t ruled out saying hello to him again.
Coach Kevin Stefanski recently expressed hope that Richardson will be back.
“I think it is certainly possible,” G.M. Andrew Berry told reporters on Friday. “Obviously, it is something that has to work for all parties involved, but we like Sheldon. He was a productive member of our team and a big part of our success last year. If that ends up being the right fit, that alignment is certainly something we would welcome.”
When it comes to “right fit,” Berry obviously means “right money.” He confirmed that Richardson’s release arose from salary-cap considerations.
“Obviously, it was a cap-related move from our perspective, but obviously Sheldon did a lot of good things for us — a good guy, a good player,” Berry said. “Those decisions are always very difficult.”
Making it easier was the fact that the Browns have other options at the position.
“We feel good about it,” Berry said regarding the team’s depth at defensive tackle. “We feel good about the guys who we currently have the roster with Andrew Billings and Malik Jackson and obviously, Jordan Elliott going into his second year. Like all positions across the draft, there are a number of good, young prospects who are going to come into the league. All of that being said, Sheldon is a big loss. He was a big part of what we did last year. He had a really strong presence in our locker room, and we are very thankful for all of the contributions he had. Those are big shoes to fill for sure.”
But fill them they will, unless they can fill those big shoes without taking up a big chunk of cap space.
The risk, of course, is that Richardson will end up signing elsewhere. Much of that will depend on the extent to which other teams address needs at the position during the draft. After next Saturday, someone else could be in the hunt for the 2013 first-round pick.