Sheldon Richardson To Vikings?

The former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle has been linked to the Minnesota Vikings per a report.
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According to a report from Jack Day of The Vikings Wire and KFAN1003, the Minnesota Vikings could look to reunite with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who was a member of the team in 2018.

The Vikings could use additional help inside after loading up on two-gap defensive tackles earlier in the offseason, pairing Dalvin Tomlinson with Michael Pierce. 

Richardson played the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns as a three-tech that could occasionally play a big end role. He would give the Vikings more athleticism and pass rush help, giving Danielle Hunter more help.

The Browns have reportedly stayed in contact with Richardson since releasing him and the two sides are regarded as being amicable. Whether the Browns interest is simply as an injury insurance policy or a larger role isn't clear, but so much of this is about how much money Richardson willing to accept on a deal.

The timing of this news release at least seems deliberate. Teams are holding minicamps this week before they go off on summer vacation, so creating a little buzz about potential movement for a player could be looking to put pressure on teams that might need a decision whether they are satisfied with what they have now.

When teams go on their summer vacation, there's what amounts to be a six week holding pattern before there's a deadline to get deals done with free agents trying to get signed before heading to training camp.

The Browns are a team where their willingness to pay a little more for Richardson might depend on how they feel about their defensive tackle rotation. They get back Andrew Billings this year from opting out last season due to COVID-19 concerns and they added Malik Jackson in the same role as Richardson, but at a far cheaper cost.

That would put the spotlight on Jordan Elliott entering his second year as well as rookies Tommy Togiai and Marvin Wilson. If the Browns aren't confident in what they can get from Togiai or Wilson this year, they might be inclined to bring back Richardson. That's a lot of youth at such a physically demanding position for a team with championship aspirations.

Perhaps the Vikings are about to sign Richardson to a deal, but it feels like a bit of a fishing expedition by an agent trying to create a market. It's not one that is likely to impact the Browns and how general manager Andrew Berry operates, but the Browns may not be their target. Perhaps there's another team that has been flirting with Richardson that hasn't been willing to make a commitment to him to this point. They might also be trying to flush out any other teams that need more defensive tackle help.

Richardson returning to the Browns is not something that can be ruled out until he signs a deal elsewhere, simply because he is a talented player that can help the Browns right now. They have the money to bring him back if that's what they want to do. But when the Browns made the decision to draft Togiai and then sign Wilson with guaranteed money that effectively makes him a draft pick, it seemed like the chances of a Richardson return were getting pretty slim.

READ MORE: Browns Prepare for Minicamp, First Major Offseason Benchmark