New Browns DL Sheldon Richardson gives frank answers about incidents that got him in trouble in past and looks ahead to being a force on the field again.

John Dorsey inherited a wrecking machine (Myles Garrett) for the defensive line when he took over as Browns general manager.

Now Dorsey is trying to become a wrecking-machine collector, and we're not talking about Sheldon Richardson getting clocked at 143 mph in a luxury car.

Free agency pickup Richardson won a monster reputation at Gateway Tech High School in St. Louis and was rated by one service as the top defensive line prospect in the country.

He wound up at the College of the Sequoias, admitting he blew off academics until it was too late. This cost him to the extent he was merely a No. 13 overall draft pick in 2013, coming off just two years with his transfer school, Missouri.

Richardson had a rocky run with the Jets but still produced enough wrecking-machine tape to convince the 2017 Seahawks he could be a key piece that returned them to where they were in 2013 and 2014, the Super Bowl. The Seahawks liked him but not well enough to franchise-tag him after the '17 season, when it became the Vikings' turn to sign him as a finishing piece in a Super Bowl run.

It was just a one-year deal in Minnesota. After leading the Vikings in snaps by an interior defensive lineman (718 in 16 starts), Richardson was available again, at age 28. Dorsey pounced (and paid).

Dorsey spoke about Richardson and the defensive tackle spoke for himself Thursday, a day after he signed a three-year, $37 million deal that includes $21 million in guaranteed money.

Richardson said the Browns are "trying to make the playoffs," but he didn't want to hear about Cleveland being the latest team using him in a Super Bowl drive.

"You can't do that right now, sitting in jeans and a vest and sweater," he said in a conference call with writers covering the Browns. "I don't predict the future. Injuries here, bad breaks there ... you're not in the playoffs, but you've got a loaded team."

Dorsey added defensive linemen Richardson and Olivier Vernon, both 28, via big moves in the free agency and trade markets. They join Garrett, who made first team All-Pro at age 23.

"Sheldon is a really fine player, especially from the interior," Dorsey said. "In today's football, if you can have an interior defensive lineman around the quarterback, that's the way the game's kind of going."

The track record shows Richardson plays with a mean streak. While with the Seahawks in 2017, he was fined $18,231 after plowing through Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton, now his Cleveland teammate.

Other parts of Richardson's record reflect Dorsey's willingness to afford "second chances."

Richardson was suspended for the first four games of 2015 after testing positive for marijuana. Less than two weeks after the suspension was announced, near his home in St. Louis, he was clocked driving his new Bentley as fast as 143 mph, charged with reckless driving and resisting arrest. His sentence included a two-year probation and 100 hours of community service.

Asked Thursday about his past run-ins, Richardson touched on one thing he has learned: "I can't be doing 150 on the highway no more."

What could he have been thinking?

"I was 24 years old in a Bentley, man, having a good time," he said.

After pulling over the Bentley, according to an arrest report, police found a legally registered handgun and smelled marijuana. Three other people were in the car, including a 12-year-old boy. Richardson was found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest.

Thursday, a reporter asked Richardson how it felt to go that fast.

"Do you want the real answer or the politically correct answer?" Richardson said, then adding, when encouraged, "I was having a ball until I got arrested."

Assorted reports about Richardson from his recent stops say he has settled down, partly because he has a 2-year-old daughter.

Speaking generally about his missteps, Richardson said, "I just grew up. I'm not a bad person just because I made a bad mistake. Every time I get traded, it comes up. I just gotta carry it like luggage."

Richardson chose to sign with the Browns as opposed to getting traded to them.

"It was the simple fact they wanted me more than one year," he said. "I wanted to get off the one-year deal thing and make myself a dominant force."

For now, Dorsey envisions a defensive line anchored by Garrett, Richardson and Vernon and including holdovers Larry Ogunjobi and Emmanuel Ogbah.

"What we're attempting to do is increase the pass rush," Dorsey said. "(The additions) help us get a little better. Combine that with Larry and Emmanuel and you have a chance to establish a good pass rush."

 

Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or

steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP