It’s not all bad news for the Cleveland Browns this week.
Amidst quarterback controversies and Twitter drama, the Browns made a positive move too.
The team re-signed linebacker Anthony Walker to a one-year, $5 million contract per multiple reports.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 16, 2022
Depth has not been a strong point for the Browns at the linebacker position recently.
Getting Walker back on an affordable one-year deal is a win for the front office.
With the Mack Wilson trade for Chase Winovich taking place, keeping some consistency at that position is a nice plus.
Walker in 2021
Last season was solid, not amazing, for Anthony Walker.
Last March, the team signed Walker to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.
In 13 games with Cleveland, Walker started 12 of them and tallied one sack along with 113 total tackles on the season.
His main strength remains his pass-coverage ability.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as one of the best pass-defending linebackers in the league last season.
#Browns Anthony Walker finished with the 4th-best PFF coverage grade (78.2) and the 8th-most coverage snaps per target (9.3) among qualifying LBs in 2021.
Nice to see him back with the orange and brown. https://t.co/7gjVT9MbVl
— Cody Suek (@CodySuek) March 16, 2022
Walker occasionally found himself out of position and missing tackles last season.
Whether that is due to a lack of production from the other LB’s or not is anyone’s guess.
Walker did miss some time at the start of last season with a hamstring injury.
He seemed fine physically after returning from the IR.
That bodes well for his health heading into next season.
His best performance came in the November 10th battle with Cincinnati, where Walker logged 14 total tackles and two sacks in a win over the Bengals.
Locker Room Impact
Having a veteran presence like Walker back in the locker room is a good thing.
There’s a lot of youth on the Browns defense, especially with the linebackers.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah continues to develop nicely and should benefit again from Walker’s presence.
The same could be said for Sione Takitaki, who hasn’t quite blossomed like JOK though.
Last March, when the Browns picked up Walker, he talked about the decision to come to Cleveland.
He mentioned sensing something special brewing with the Browns and talked about wanting to be a part of it. He also mentioned being impressed with Baker Mayfield.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) March 24, 2021
Things have certainly changed from a year ago, both with personnel and the vibes surrounding the team.
Still, Walker must sense something is still there with this team if he wants to come back for another season.
Role in 2022
As it stands, it’s safe to assume Walker will have a larger impact this upcoming season.
He’s one of the only veterans in the linebacker spot on this team.
Again, that kind of experience is needed with so many young guys on defense.
In a pass-happy league as well, having a linebacker that can excel in coverage is never a bad thing.