Barden, a three-year starter for the Commodores and the team's second leading career receiver from the tight end position, signed Monday with the Tennessee Titans. Richardson, also a three-year starter at strong safety, signed with the Green Bay Packers.
Three more Commodore seniors, quarterback Larry Smith, offensive lineman Kyle Fischer and defensive lineman T.J. Greenstone, have been invited to rookie mini-camp tryouts with the Dallas, Cincinnati and Chicago, respectively.
The free agent deals for Barden and Richardson come just days after two additional Vanderbilt standouts, cornerback Casey Hayward and defensive end Tim Fugger, were selected in the NFL Draft. Hayward was picked by the Packers in the second round while Fugger went to the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round.
Many draft experts were surprised that Richardson was not selected during the three-day event. He concluded his career with 256 total tackles, No. 24 on the team's all-time list.
Richardson also was one of the most durable Commodores. He made 50 all-time appearances, and earned 35 career starts, including the final 32 games of his career.
Richardson made an impact every year on campus. As a freshman, he scored the team's only touchdown in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, recovering a fumble in the end zone to help the Commodores beat Boston College. As a sophomore starter, Richardson tallied 84 total tackles. One year later, he set a single-season high with 98 tackles. Richardson finished his career with 63 tackles as a senior, helping the Commodores to an appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Barden also played a pivotal role for the last four years in a Commodore uniform. As a redshirt freshman, he posted 28 catches and four touchdowns. As a sophomore and junior, he had 34 and 29 receptions, respectively. As a senior, Barden was limited to 16 catches while playing through injuries.
A 2011 preseason John Mackay Award candidate, Barden finished his career with 107 receptions, second all-time among Vanderbilt tight ends behind Allama Matthews. He also had 1,234 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches.
Smith earned 27 career starts as quarterback for the Commodores. Starting for much of his final three seasons, Smith finished his career with 310 completions in 631 attempts, good for 3,223 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a senior offensive co-captain, Smith completed 68 of 123 passes for 668 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
Smith also played a large role in both of Vanderbilt's recent postseason bowl appearances. His first career start came against Boston College in the 2008 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. In his final appearance, Smith directed a second-half comeback against Cincinnati in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Fischer enjoyed his best year as a senior offensive co-captain. Starting at right tackle for the first time in his career, Fischer played nearly every offensive snap for the Commodores, helping produce one of the most potent offenses in team history. An honorable mention All-SEC pick by writers in 2011, Fischer ended his career with 30 consecutive starts on the offensive line.
A defensive co-captain in 2010, Greenstone worked through injuries as a senior, playing his best football at the conclusion of the year. He finished with 11 total tackles, including two quarterback sacks and four tackles for loss.
In his career, Greenstone amassed 110 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss and five sacks. As a sophomore, he set a single-season high with 38 tackles while earning the team's Most Valuable Defensive Lineman Award.
Barden, Richardson, Fischer and Greenstone are among nine 2011 seniors that are the only players in Vanderbilt history to participate in two postseason bowl games during their Commodore careers.