The Minnesota Vikings have added another piece to their defensive line, this time in the form of a familiar face. On Tuesday, the Vikings officially announced that they have signed veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson is the latest of moves Minnesota has made to rebuild the defensive line. Former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce was signed to a three-year $27 million contract last offseason, though he has yet to play a snap for the team after opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns regarding COVID-19. New York Giants defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was another big free-agent acquisition this offseason for the Vikings, signing a two-year $21 million contract. All-Pro defensive end Danielle Hunter is also returning from missing the entire 2020 season with a neck injury. Now, Richardson will join these three to give Minnesota what should be one of the most formidable defensive lines in the entire NFL. The new interior trio should particularly help against the run--an area in which the Vikings desperately needed help after giving up the sixth-most rushing yards in the league last season.
Richardson will reunite with Minnesota at 30-years old after spending the past two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. In his one season in Minnesota in 2018, Richardson played in all 16 games and recorded 49 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, six tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits. Last season with the Browns, he recorded 64 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits, three pass deflections, and one forced fumble in 16 games.
Richardson was originally drafted by the New York Jets with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Richardson experienced some off-the-field issues early on in his career, most notably being arrested for resisting arrest and traffic violations in 2016. Richardson was found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest on January 16, 2017. After picking up Richardson's fifth-year option before the 2016 season, the Jets attempted to trade the former first-round pick throughout that year. They would not strike a trade until just before the start of the 2017 season, however, when the Seattle Seahawks traded a 2018 second-round pick and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse in exchange for the defensive tackle. Richardson only spent one season with the Seahawks before leaving to join the Vikings in 2018. He then spent the next two seasons with the Browns but was released by Cleveland following the 2020 season.
Throughout his eight-year career, Richardson has played in 121 games, starting 118. During that span, he has 461 total tackles, 31 sacks, 58 tackles for loss, 92 quarterback hits, 10 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, one safety, one interception, and 14 pass deflections.
There is almost nowhere to go but up for last season's 27th-ranked defense.