If the Cleveland Browns can only keep one linebacker then make it Sionne Takitaki

The Cleveland Browns’ financial situation is terrible, and they may not be able to retain a lot of their linebackers but Sionne Takitaki should be one of them.

The Cleveland Browns’ salary cap isn’t looking good. Spotrac projects that the Browns will be $13 million over the cap by the start of the season unless the team can move money around. That number is based on the guaranteed salaries for 2023 and dead cap money from releases and restructured deals.

So, no, the team won’t be over the cap when the season starts, but you can better believe that the team will have to do some serious cost-cutting to get under the cap. That may mean letting go of some more talented players who have contracts already, and letting free agents walk who may actually be able to help the Browns.

The linebacking corp is basically all up for new deals. The only major name from the unit still under contract for 2023 is Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Everyone else is a free agent. So with the costs raising and needs mounting, the Browns have to make some shrewd decisions. Maybe rebuilding the linebacking corp is the right way to go.

But you can’t just start over with six or seven new guys and Owusu-Koramoah. You need consistency to some degree. One guy who really stepped up in 2022 and showed his value was Sione Takitaki. And if the Browns can’t bring all their LB’s back, they have to try and at least bring back Takitaki.

The Cleveland Browns could use Sione Takitaki’s versatility

Anthony Walker is an undersized middle linebacker who no longer fits what the Browns need. Deion Jones didn’t play well enough to warrant a new contract. If Reggie Ragland takes a cheap deal, he’d be a great fourth linebacker but he’s not great in coverage. Jordan Kunaszy played well enough in minimum action but he’s a backup unless he takes a massive leap forward.

Jacob Phillips and Tony Fields are not the answer as starters, in Fields’ case, at least not at linebacker though a move to safety could be interesting. The rest of the corp is pretty expendable after that.

Takitaki, on the other hand, carries with him some decent size, strength, and quickness. He’s not going to the Hall of Fame, but you could see him having a 10-year run with the club. He was on the bubble for me all year long, but seeing how well he played as a middle linebacker made me realize he’s not someone you can easily replace.

Sure, there are faster, bigger, and more talented guys, but he’s someone who can be a glue guy for a defense and can plug many holes at once. That versatility is unique and hard to find.

Walker has a bit of that, but he lacks the strength Takitaki has.