Vikes further bolster front by signing DT Richardson

Published 5:12 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings signed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson before their minicamp began Tuesday, bringing back a proven interior pass rusher in the latest part of their offseason makeover.

Defensive end Danielle Hunter also made his first appearance on the practice field, after skipping the previous spring sessions. Hunter, who did not play last year because of a neck injury, agreed to rework the terms of the contract he signed three years ago.

Richardson played the last two seasons for the Cleveland Browns, with 4 1/2 sacks and 10 quarterback hits in 2020. His lone previous season with the Vikings, in 2018, was productive, with 4 1/2 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. They let him leave as a free agent in a salary cap crunch.

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The 30-year-old Richardson joins newcomers Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson in the middle of the line, with the Vikings determined to boost their defense after a lackluster season that prompted coach Mike Zimmer to call the group the “worst he’s ever had” in his career.

Richardson wore No. 9 as he went through drills with the team, at least temporarily taking the number of rookie punter Zach Von Rosenberg, who was waived to make room on the roster.

The Vikings also re-signed defensive end Stephen Weatherly earlier this offseason, after he spent one year with the Carolina Panthers, and the secondary got just as major of a revamp as the defensive line. Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland and Mackensie Alexander and safety Xavier Woods were all signed as free agents and on track for the starting lineup.