Sheldon Richardson's career began as a game-changing and franchise cornerstone defensive lineman.
He was precisely that player until he ran into off-field issues that sent him out of New York and to two different teams in as many years. Now, he's past those problems and ready to find a long-term pairing with an NFL club.
He thinks he's done so in signing with the Browns.
"They wanted me on more than one year. Definitely was one of my big, big, big, big things, I wanted to get out of the one-year deal thing," Richardson explained Thursday when asked what about the Browns appealed to him. "I wanted to find a home and make myself a dominant force for one organization and not just get passed around."
Even while he was passed around, Richardson excelled, especially in his most recent season. He played all 16 games for the Vikings, recording 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He's only missed one game in his last two seasons, a football mercenary who still has plenty of good action left in him.
"I do things here and there that might not show up on the stat sheet, but I definitely feel like I'm still one of the elite D-linemen in the league," Richardson said. "I just haven't had a chance to find a home yet, and I think I found it here."
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.
His new home will feature newly acquired pass rusher Olivier Vernon, Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, Trevon Coley, Chris Smith and Emmanuel Ogbah. With Richardson included, that group combined to record 275 tackles and 39.5 sacks, and force six fumbles in 2018.
There's plenty of talent up front. The former first-round pick of the Jets is more than happy to join it.
"It is a pick-your-poison type of deal," Richardson said of how opponents will approach blocking Cleveland's defensive front. "That is the type of feeling you get from looking at it going off of numbers. That will be the feeling you get … If you are going to double team me, somebody else is going to make the play and get off. That is how I look at it. I can only speak for myself at the moment."
An average fan might question why a player with such a resume would think he will draw double teams. But Richardson wouldn't have such a resume had he not run into some off-field issues, which he said Thursday he addressed by simply growing up, even if he might not ever get away from his past completely.
"Me personally, I have been past it for a while now," he said. "It is just that every time I get traded to another team, something there pops up. I just have to carry light luggage. That is how I look at it."
With his light luggage also comes plenty of disruptive power along the interior. He’s a defensive tackle who can both stop the run and rush the passer effectively. He’s also the second Pro Bowl defender to join the Browns this week.
Now that the off-field situation is in order, Richardson is ready to dominate in the same place for more than just 16 games.
"It is easy -- me getting into trouble after my second year in the league," Richardson said when asked why he hasn't gotten a multi-year offer before the Browns. "I guess they thought that the spotlight was too big for me or my maturity level was not where it needed to be or whatever. I just never really had a chance to make it a home.
"Cleveland was the one who gave me my chance, and I am going to make due of it, period."