The Browns have signed Anthony Walker to play linebacker for them on a one-year deal, but he may not be the upgrade the team needs.
The Cleveland Browns have agreed on a contract with former Indianapolis Colts linebacker, Anthony Walker. Walker, 25, signed a one-year deal, worth $3.5 million. The Colts were 2nd against the rush last year, the Browns were 9th, so it wasn’t exactly a big gap from where they were to where Cleveland was. The issue is that most teams didn’t have to rush against either team.
The Colts were 20th against the pass, while the Browns were 22nd. Now, the Browns have already addressed that with two proven starters in Troy Hill and John Johnson, and many on social media are heralding the signing of Walker. Except, Walker isn’t known to be a good coverage linebacker.
Yes, Walker has a lot of tackles, but so did Joe Schobert and the team let him walk, so what does Walker bring to the table that makes his signing so impactful? He’s graded out as worse than Schobert by PFF, and many argued that Schobert wasn’t a good enough linebacker in his own right.
That’s a different argument for a different day, but Walker didn’t even grade out higher than Malcolm Smith, B.J. Goodson, or Sione Takitaki. So why Walker? Moreover, does his signing mean the Browns won’t pursue any linebacking help in free agency or the draft? As that would probably be a mistake.
That said, there is an intangible that Walker brings to the Browns and that’s apparently his leadership skills, which are important. Former teammate Darius Leonard tweeted out that his biggest impact was on the Colts’ locker room during their time together.
Now, it’s not like the Browns need more leadership. The possibility of too many cooks in the kitchen and whatnot, but it’s not a bad thing necessarily. The Browns had their issues with discipline from time-to-time last year, mostly on offense, but that doesn’t mean that the Browns won’t still benefit from any potential impact he has on the defense.
It’s not like this is a bad signing, it’s just not the signing the defense needs. It could work out for the Browns, however. While it’s unlikely that after four years with the Colts, that Walker matures into a Pro Bowl-caliber player now, it’s not out of the possibility. Sometimes you just need to have someone who can relate a key piece of information to you differently for things to really unlock for you. Especially in athletics. So much of it is mental and maybe the Browns have a coach who can bring the best out of Walker.
The problem comes from the fact that both team’s defenses are/were in the same spot after the 2020 season and both were looking to upgrade the position. The Colts let a 25-year-old linebacker, who didn’t cost that much, go for a reason. The Browns, who needed to upgrade at linebacker, signed arguably the worst starter in the league to fill that gap.
This feels so much like the issues with last year, where GM Andrew Berry signed a bunch of guys no one else wanted on one-year-deals, like Karl Joseph, who panned out about as well as you’d expect.
That doesn’t mean the Walker signing won’t pan out. No one can say it will or it won’t. It just means that this isn’t, on paper, the signing people were hoping for.
Walker could be a great “get” for the Browns and if he is, fantastic. We’re rooting for him because he’s now a Clevelander.