5:45pm: The Browns made the roster move official this afternoon, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, placing Walker on injured reserve, where he is expected to remain for the rest of the season.
11:52am: Anthony Walker left Thursday night’s game early, and the Browns linebacker will not return this season. An MRI revealed the sixth-year defender suffered a quadriceps tendon tear, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
After initially signing Walker in 2021, the Browns gave him a one-year, $4.25MM deal to come back as a starter. But the team will need to make a long-term adjustment after Friday’s news. This is a tough blow for Walker, who required cart transportation last night and will be set to go through a five- to seven-month rehab timetable.
A 2017 Colts fifth-round pick, Walker has been a starter for the past five seasons. The Colts let him walk in 2021 and doled out record-setting off-ball linebacker money to Shaquille Leonard months later. But Walker made an impact in Cleveland last season. Pro Football Focus rated him as a top-20 off-ball linebacker alongside promising youngster Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Walker, 27, made 113 tackles and notched a sack last season.
This will obviously hurt Walker’s chances of scoring a better free agency deal in 2023. The Browns also saw Owusu-Koramoah leave Thursday’s game; a groin injury sidelined the second-year defender. Jacob Phillips, a 2020 third-round pick, is set to both replace Walker and wear the green dot signifying a communication role, Kevin Stefanski said.
While Phillips has only started four games in his Browns career, he played well against the Steelers. The LSU product registered seven tackles and came through with a third-down sack and a third-down pass breakup during Cleveland’s Week 3 win. This figures to turn into an audition season for Phillips, who played just 123 defensive snaps last year.