Sione Takitaki

Patriots To Sign LB Sione Takitaki

After five seasons in Cleveland, Sione Takitaki will join the Patriots. Some familiar faces will greet the former Browns linebacker.

Takitaki will sign with the Patriots, per’s Tom Pelissero. In addition to OC Alex Van Pelt and QBs coach T.C. McCartney, the current top Pats decision-maker — Eliot Wolf — and the recently hired Alonzo Highsmith were in Cleveland when the Browns drafted Takitaki.

As Takitaki rejoins some key John Dorsey-era Browns brain-trust bastions in Foxborough, Pelissero adds he will do so on a two-year, $6.5MM accord. The Browns showed confidence in Takitaki under GM Andrew Berry as well, re-signing him following a 2022 injury. But the team will let the former third-round pick move on.

Takitaki was a third-round pick by the Browns back in 2019 but could never carve out a consistent role during his time in Cleveland. He started exactly half of his 72 regular-season appearances with the team, compiling 268 tackles and four sacks. That includes a 2023 campaign where he finished with 65 tackles and two sacks while ranking as Pro Football Focus’ 32nd-best linebacker among 82 qualifiers.

The Patriots do return much of their linebackers corps in 2024, but the team could be missing a chunk of snaps from departed free agents. Both Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche are currently free agents, and the door to a potential return could be shut with Takitaki now on board.

Browns Content With LB Room?

The linebacker spot was one of great flux for the Browns in 2022, after the unit was decimated by injuries throughout the campaign. Few changes to the unit have been made during the offseason, so the team’s incumbents will be counted on to remain healthy as part of a new-look front seven.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah remains at the top of the depth chart at the second level, but he was one of four linebackers who started games at some point during the season but ended the year on IR. The 2021 second-rounder will be expected to take a step forward in terms of production in Year 3, but a bolstered D-line in front of him and a healthy group of fellow starters should help in that regard.

On that note, plenty of attention will be placed on Sione Takitaki‘s rehab from a torn ACL. The setback hindered his market and yielded only a one-year Browns deal, but a return to his pre-injury form would be a welcomed development for player and team. The 28-year-old is not a lock to be healthy in time for the beginning of the season, however, per The Athletic’s Zac Jackson (subscription required).

Especially if Takitaki were to miss time in the fall, signficant playing time would be available for the likes of Anthony Walker and Jacob PhillipsThe former inked a one-year pact with Cleveland for the third consecutive offseason, while the latter is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Browns signed Matthew Adams to provide depth and special teams experience, but no rookies were added at the position during the draft.

Midseason trade acquisition Deion Jones also remains unsigned, after he and the Browns agreed to a reworked contract which removed the 2023 campaign from his deal. As Jackson notes, Cleveland’s lack of impactful moves suggests confidence in the team’s available options at the LB spot ahead of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz‘s first year at the helm. The arrivals of Dalvin Tomlinson, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Za’Darius Smith should improve his unit’s play at the line of scrimmage. Whether or not that helps answer the outstanding questions surrounding the linebacking corps will be worth watching as the season progresses.

Browns, LB Sione Takitaki Agree To Deal

Although Sione Takitaki‘s ACL tear affected his value, the Browns will give him a chance to recover and re-establish himself next season. They are signing the veteran linebacker to a one-year deal, Jeremy Fowler of tweets.’s Mary Kay Cabot first reported the sides were expected to agree to another contract.

Takitaki’s deal is set to check in around $2.6MM. He will return to a Browns team that also has Jacob Phillips recovering from a season-ending injury. The Browns have not re-signed trade acquisition Deion Jones. Takitaki said in January he wanted to stay in Cleveland.

The Browns ran into a number of injury issues at linebacker last season and struggled consistently against the run. Takitaki’s setback came after the team lost Anthony Walker and Jacob Phillips, but the former third-round pick was progressing toward a possible Browns extension prior to his knee tear. Pro Football Focus has viewed Takitaki as one of the NFL’s more consistent linebackers in recent years, rating him just inside the top 30 at the position last season.

Owusu-Koramoah remains Cleveland’s anchor at the position; he stands to be the team’s candidate to sign a lucrative extension among its linebackers. Takitaki could be a future candidate for a mid-tier deal. For now, the BYU product will need to work his way back. He is expected to be ready to go just before the season, per Fowler.

Takitaki, however, is already headed for his age-28 season. He is running short on time to capitalize on his value. The 2023 season, then, stands to be critical. In the wake of the Walker and Phillips injuries, Takitaki logged a 65% defensive snap rate. That came in well north of his previous three seasons, despite Takitaki starting 20 games from 2020-21. He finished with a career-best 71 tackles last season.

LB Sione Takitaki Wants To Re-Sign With Browns

The Browns’ linebacking corps was ravaged by injuries this season, and the position is very much in flux heading into the offseason. One member of the unit who is eyeing a return is Sione Takitaki.

The 27-year-old is heading into free agency for the first time in his career, having spent his first four seasons in Cleveland. The former third-rounder primarily played on special teams as a rookie, but he took on a much larger role in 2020, starting 12 of 15 contests that season. He flashed potential that year with 67 tackles and one interception, but took a step back in playing time in 2021.

Takitaki was once again counted on as a key member of the Browns’ defense this season, however. He logged a career-high snap share of 65%, setting a new personal mark with 71 tackles along the way. He started eight of 12 games, and was poised to continue playing a significant role for the final month of the campaign until he suffered a torn ACL in December. That injury added further to Cleveland’s availability issues at the position, with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Anthony Walker, Jacob Phillips and Jordan Kunaszyk each finishing the campaign on IR.

Takitaki’s recovery complicates his market, as he is on track to return to full health around October. While the injury no doubt hurt the value of his next contract, the BYU product is optimistic both that he can actually recover in time to be available for Week 1 and, partially as a result, land a new deal allowing him to remain in Cleveland for at least the short-term future.

“I feel like I have enough tape to end up landing on my feet eventually, so I’m not really worried,” he said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal“Obviously, [the injury] sucks… I could have definitely got hooked up in the next contract, but I’m excited. I still got a lot of tape, and I bring a lot to the table.”

The Browns are currently projected to be in worse financial shape than most other teams as free agency approaches, and a rebuild of the front seven would come as little surprise given the team’s defensive performance against the run in 2022. Cleveland’s decision with Takitaki and Walker, a fellow pending UFA, will thus be a situation worth watching, though the pair both made their feelings about the organization clear.

“Yeah, I’ve already voiced my opinion,” Takitaki said, echoing Walker’s sentiments. “I love Cleveland. I told them I want to be back, so we’ll see what the future holds.”

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/6/22

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

New Orleans Saints

  • Released from reserve/PUP list: TE Dylan Soehner

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Prior to waiving Stevenson, the Bills activated the second-year wide receiver from IR, Tom Pelissero of tweets. The procedural move would allow Stevenson — should he clear waivers — to return to Buffalo on a practice squad agreement. This will still count toward Buffalo’s eight injury activations, but the team still has six remaining. A 2021 sixth-round pick, Stevenson combined for 21 punt- and kick-return reps as a rookie.

The Eagles placed Robert Quinn on IR on Tuesday but will have a reinforcement in Robinson, a 2021 Vikings fourth-round pick. The Eagles signed Robinson off the Vikings’ practice squad in mid-September. He has yet to play in an NFL game.

A former franchise-tagged player, Harris was unable to carve out much of a role in Denver. The ex-Vikings and Eagles starter only played in three games for the Broncos, who signed him just before the season. Despite having a six-INT season on his resume, the 31-year-old defender did not play a defensive snap with the Broncos.

Browns LB Sione Takitaki Tears ACL

The Browns are having persistent trouble keeping linebackers healthy. They lost another starter Sunday, with Kevin Stefanski confirming Sione Takitaki will miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear.

Takitaki’s ACL injury follows Anthony Walker‘s torn quadriceps tendon and Jacob Phillipstorn pec. This is obviously a chunk of second-level experience lost for a 5-7 Browns team facing a run-the-table scenario in order to make a playoff push.

This comes at a brutal point for Takitaki, who is months away from his first crack at unrestricted free agency. A former third-round pick out of BYU, Takitaki has started 29 games for the Browns, who drafted him during John Dorsey‘s GM tenure. With that regime no longer in place, it will be interesting to see how the Browns handle the fourth-year defender’s free agency. Takitaki, Walker and Deion Jones are eligible to hit the market in 2023. The team’s restructure with Jones, upon acquiring him from Atlanta, took a year off his Falcons-constructed extension.

Takitaki broke into Cleveland’s starting lineup during the franchise’s best season since rebooting, and he both notched a regular-season pick-six in that 2020 slate and intercepted Ben Roethlisberger during a COVID-affected Browns team’s wild-card upset win. This season, Pro Football Focus rates Takitaki (71 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble) as the Browns’ best off-ball ‘backer and a top-30 player at the position. This injury should affect his market, however. With Takitaki (28 in June) on the older end for a first-time free agent, this is a tough setback.

Cleveland still has Jones and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah healthy. Despite his pedigree, the longtime Falcons starter has worked mostly as a backup since the October trade. Although Jones has started two games with Cleveland, he has yet to exceed 20 snaps since his most recent start (Week 10). More should be needed from the seventh-year defender following the team’s latest linebacker injury, but second-year ‘backer Tony Fields has started the past two games. He played a career-high 33 defensive snaps against the Texans.

Browns To Consider Extension For LB Sione Takitaki?

Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and Mary Kay Cabot of 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.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/5/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears 

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

COVID-19 Latest: Ravens, Williams, Browns

Earlier Wednesday, the NFL took the Ravens-Steelers rematch off its Thanksgiving schedule. That game is now on tap for 12:15pm CT Sunday. More is emerging on why the Steelers will see another of their games delayed. The Ravens disciplined a strength and conditioning coach for “conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff.” The Ravens are levying the discipline because the unnamed staffer did not report symptoms or consistently wear a mask or a contact tracing device, according to’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). This is believed to have contributed to the Ravens’ outbreak — one that comes nearly two months after a Titans outbreak altered the Steelers’ schedule. Seven Ravens players and at least five staffers have tested positive for COVID. This will not only weaken Baltimore against Pittsburgh but potentially deplete team’s roster for its Week 13 Thursday game against Dallas.

Several teams shuffled their rosters because of COVID on Wednesday. Here is the latest:

  • 49ers left tackle Trent Williams tested positive for COVID-19 last week, per’s Dan Graziano (on Twitter). A cancer survivor, Williams has not experienced issues with the virus yet, Graziano tweets. Williams, who landed on the 49ers’ COVID list earlier this month as a high-risk close contact, is on track to miss San Francisco’s Week 12 game in Los Angeles.
  • Six players remain on San Francisco’s virus list. The 49ers removed Arik Armstead and center Hroniss Grasu on Wednesday.
  • Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki tested positive Wednesday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of (on Twitter). Takitaki played against the Eagles and returned an interception for a touchdown. The Cleveland starting linebacker’s positive test follows Myles Garrett‘s. Neither they nor Denzel Ward (injury) will be available for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. The Browns closed their facility Wednesday, but their Jags game remains on schedule.
  • The Bengals placed wide receiver Auden Tate and recently acquired offensive lineman B.J. Finney on their reserve/COVID-19 list. Cincinnati has seen staffers test positive, with D-line coach Nick Eason being the most recent. Eason was alerted of his positive test Tuesday. The Bengals now have five players on their reserve/COVID list.
  • Christian Wilkins is off the Dolphins‘ COVID list. Wilkins was not reported to have tested positive, but the second-year defensive lineman still missed two games after landing on the team’s virus list.
  • The Raiders activated Cory Littleton from their COVID list. The high-profile free agent addition has been out for two weeks due to a positive coronavirus test. Las Vegas’ defense remains shorthanded due to virus issues, with Clelin Ferrell testing positive last week and Lamarcus Joyner missing Sunday’s Chiefs game because of his status as a close contact.
  • Dante Fowler also tested positive two weeks ago and missed the Falcons‘ Week 11 game, but the big-ticket free agent addition is off the list now and on course to return to Atlanta’s lineup Sunday.
  • The Vikings and Chargers also removed players from their respective virus lists Wednesday. Minnesota activated guard Dru Samia; Los Angeles activated cornerback Brandon Facyson.

Browns Wrap Draft Class

The Browns’ draft class is in the books. On Friday, the Browns inked third-round linebacker Sione Takitaki, which means that all of the following players are officially in the fold:

Last year, Takitaki led BYU with 118 tackles, but many teams had him low on the board due to his past off-the-field troubles. Takitaki got into a dorm fight in his freshman year, allegedly stole property on campus as a sophomore, and spent time away from the program in 2016 due to academic issues.

In spite of those red flags, the Browns are excited about Takitaki’s potential.

Takitaki is a tough son of a gun,” Browns director of college scouting Steve Malin said during the draft. “I’m excited about having Takitaki because of his physical presence and what he brings to this organization. Obviously, there is a lot of exposure that all of us in the personnel department got on all these players.”