Free-agent DT Sheldon Richardson returns to Vikings  

Two months after being released by the Browns, Sheldon Richardson has inked a new deal with one of his other previous teams.

The Vikings signed the former Pro Bowl defensive tackle, the team announced Tuesday. It's a one-year deal for $3.6 million that can be worth up to $4.35 million with incentives, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

Richardson, 30, returns to Minnesota just in time for the start of mandatory minicamp after a productive two-year stint in Cleveland. He was released by the club in April in order to save cap space following the signing of Jadeveon Clowney.

Richardson's previous stint under Mike Zimmer came during the 2018 season, a campaign that saw Minnesota finish in the top five in total defense. After spending the previous year with the Seahawks, the 2013 first-round pick joined the Vikings on a one-year deal and proved to be worth the investment, recording 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 16 starts.

Minnesota's D was solid in 2019 after Richardson left, but the group, amid some key departures and health issues, showed noticeable regression in 2020. To the team's credit, much of free agency was spent re-tooling a unit Zimmer categorized as "barren" entering the offseason.

Richardson represents yet another formidable defensive addition alongside newcomers Dalvin Tomlinson and Michael Pierce, who signed last offseason but opted to sit out in 2020. The returns of defensive ends Danielle Hunter, coming off a lost season due to injury, and Stephen Weatherly, a Viking for all but one of his five seasons, adds to the potential of this bunch in 2021.

While the big-money signings of Tomlinson and Pierce may keep him out of the starting lineup, Richardson is sure to provide invaluable D-line depth as the team gears up for another run in the fall.

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