Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes the Browns could consider a new deal. Takitaki’s place in Cleveland beyond 2022 is not known just yet, but the former third-round pick has been a regular on the past two Browns defenses.
Cleveland’s most frequent alignment is a 4-2-5 look, with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Anthony Walker entrenched as the primary linebackers in the middle of the unit. But when the team deploys a strong-side ‘backer, it calls upon Takitaki, a hard-hitting run-stopper whose 67.5 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2021 would have been a top-20 mark if he had enough snaps to qualify.
Indeed, the BYU product appeared in just 28% of the Browns’ defensive snaps least season after posting a 43% number the year before. Much of that decrease was due to the arrivals of Owusu-Koramoah and Walker, who established themselves as high-level performers and relegated Takitaki to more of a marginal role.
Still, the advanced metrics were similarly fond of Takitaki in 2020, when he posted a career-best PFF grade of 71.2. Even if he is slated for rotational duties moving forward, the 27-year-old has been productive when given the opportunity to stay on the field, and should be relatively affordable on a short- or medium-term extension.
As many have pointed out amidst Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson-induced QB uncertainty, the Browns are currently in a league of their own in terms of 2022 cap space. Much of that will likely be used to roll over into next year, which will see a substantial spike in cap figures for the likes of Watson, Myles Garrett, Amari Cooper, and Denzel Ward. An extension would therefore have to be relatively modest for Takitaki, though there is little reason to believe anything other than that would be the Browns’ goal.
As Cleveland looks to retain as many members of what it feels is a Super Bowl-caliber roster, keeping Takitaki in the fold would likely be a worthwhile investment. How aggressively they pursue an extension, however, remains to be seen. Of course, as Cabot notes, the team could simply wait to consider a new contract until next offseason.
Adam La Rose contributed to this post.