Even NFL teams in the late 90s didn’t need seven linebackers. Likely Jacob Phillips is going on the IR soon, doing so before Wednesday would’ve had him out for the year with no chance of returning. Even then, you really only need five linebackers. Six with Phillips coming back.
Of those five possible linebackers, none of them needed to be Malcolm Smith.
If the linebackers you have are so bad that you needed to retain Smith, who had an average year at best in 2020, then that shows you just how unreliable you are at selecting talent.
We already know the linebacking corp is, again, the weakest part of the defense. Phillips is hurt, Mack Wilson has not had the best of careers before, Anthony Walker is a “great team guy” but a liability on the field, Sione Takitaki has never been anything more than ‘just there’, and clearly Tony Fields II is as ready as undercooked chicken.
The only prospect or player at the position who feels even remotely ready is Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and he’s only played in one preseason game. That should tell you the state of the linebacking corp. The entire unit is resting on the shoulders of one man, who’s played three-quarters of preseason football.
The fact the Browns feel the need to carry Smith shows you that the team isn’t better at the position, and maybe this can be a reminder to fans that fifth-round picks are taken there for a reason and should stop expecting them to make impacts.