The Browns injected talent and valuable depth into its evolving roster Thursday with the signing of four free agents.
Cleveland finalized deals with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (Vikings), tight end Demetrius Harris (Chiefs), linebacker Adarius Taylor (Buccaneers) and offensive lineman Eric Kush (Bears).
“Every year is different. With that being said, we take the same processes of how we go about business,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said. “By no means is anybody content with 7-8-1. We want to be better than that. Part of the objective of this class is to get better. At the end of the day, everybody in the organization feels that, you know what, we have gotten a little bit better and we are going to compete in the AFC North.”
Richardson, 28, is coming off a season with the Vikings in which he amassed 4.5 sacks and 49 tackles in 16 starts. He was at the center of the NFL’s second-best rush defense, which allowed just 83.6 yards per game. He’s the second Pro Bowl defensive lineman added to Cleveland’s roster in as many days, joining Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon, who was acquired in a trade Wednesday.
“He’s an interior three-technique pass rusher. Ultra competitive, very prideful and is a force to be reckoned with within the inside,” Dorsey said. “In football today, if you can have an interior pass rusher to apply pressure to the quarterback, that helps. He’s got some of that ability to do that.”
Richardson, a former first-round pick by the New York Jets out of Missouri, has made 87 starts over six seasons, earning the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and making the Pro Bowl in 2014. He amassed a career-high 78 tackles as a rookie and had his best sack total in 2014, compiling eight to go along with 67 tackles, a safety and a forced fumble.
After four seasons with the Jets, Richardson joined the Seahawks in 2017, starting all 15 of the games in which he appeared. He had 44 tackles, a sack and his first career interception.
View an assortment of photos of new Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who signed with the team this week after spending time with the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings.
Harris, 27, spent the past six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, serving as a valuable, No. 2 tight end opposite of Pro Bowler Travis Kelce and filling a number of other roles for the AFC West Division Champions.
Dorsey signed Harris as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Harris saw his first game action the following year and took on more and more as his career progressed.
“Demetrius is unique is because he was a basketball player at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,” Dorsey said. “He has steadily grown into the position of tight end. He’s a solid No. 2 tight end who can both block and run and he is, to me, one of the better tight ends who plays special teams. He’ll be contributing in that regard.”
Harris posted a career-high three touchdowns to go along with 12 receptions for 164 yards in 2018. He was on the field for 721 snaps, half of which were on various special teams. For his career, Harris has 33 starts -- a career-high 11 of which came in 2016 -- 57 receptions, 605 yards and six touchdowns.
Take a look at photos of three of the newest Browns: tight end Demetrius Harris, offensive lineman Eric Kush and linebacker Adarius Taylor.
Taylor, 28, comes to Cleveland after spending the last four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he recorded 104 tackles, 2.0 sacks, six passes defensed, one interception and two forced fumbles in four seasons.
Primarily a special teamer, the 28-year-old Taylor saw his defensive snaps jump significantly after the Buccaneers lost starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander to injury this past season. Taylor went from logging more special teams snaps per game than defensive in the first four weeks to the opposite, finishing with 603 defensive snaps and 203 special teams snaps in 2018.
"He is probably the second-best linebacker ever to come out of Lakeland, Florida. Ray Lewis was the first one," Dorsey said. "He's a shorter guy who's going to run around, he's a run-around, special teams guy who's going to give you competitive depth. You want to add those types of guys to your roster.”
Kush, 29, played in 15 games for the Chicago Bears in 2018. The interior lineman played 344 snaps last season, including starts in the first three games at left guard. A neck injury sidelined him in Week 4 and eventually relegated him to filling in along the interior when needed and playing special teams for a Bears team that won the NFC North.
Kush has a connection to Dorsey, who selected him in the fifth round (170th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kush has also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.