Although Anthony Walker was among the Browns linebackers to suffer a major injury last season, the team will keep him around on another one-year deal.
Walker visited the Commanders earlier this week, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets the veteran off-ball defender will return to the Browns. This will be the third straight offseason in which Walker has signed a one-year deal with the Browns.
The Browns have now come to terms with two of their linebackers coming off significant injuries. They re-signed Sione Takitaki last week as well. Several weeks before Takitaki’s ACL tear, Walker suffered a torn quad tendon. Despite Walker’s previous two deals coming during Joe Woods‘ defensive coordinator tenure, the Browns will see what he looks like in Jim Schwartz‘s defense.
Walker left Indianapolis for Cleveland in 2021, when he signed a one-year deal worth $3MM. In 2022, it cost the Browns $4.25MM to bring Walker back on a one-year accord. A deal in this neighborhood should be expected this time around. Walker is entering his age-28 season. The team also showed interest in bringing back Mack Wilson, but the Patriots signed him last week. Instead, Takitaki and Walker will each attempt to rebound from their injuries in Cleveland.
Cleveland still has top linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on his rookie contract. The 2021 second-round pick cannot be extended until next year. Should the Browns extend Owusu-Koramoah, veteran linebacker money will be scarcer. With the Notre Dame product still in that rookie-deal window, Takitaki and Walker will complement him once again.
Walker suited up for 13 Browns games in 2021, tallying 100-plus tackles (113) for a third time. The ex-Shaquille Leonard sidekick has been a prolific tackler when on the field, but he has missed 18 games over the past two seasons. The injury trouble and a buyer’s market forming at inside linebacker this offseason will suppress Walker’s value.
Deion Jones, whom the Browns traded for last year, remains in free agency, but the team still sports a crowded linebacker room. Cleveland added ex-Indianapolis and Chicago contributor Matthew Adams this week, and Jacob Phillips — the third Browns ‘backer to suffer a season-ending injury in 2022 — remains on the roster as well. Walker saw more action than Takitaki and Phillips when healthy. In 2021, he played 80% of Cleveland’s defensive snaps. Should he prove recovered from the September quad injury, another regular role should await.