The Cleveland Browns face an interesting offseason. The team is expected to win and, possibly, win big in 2023 but are coming off a disappointing losing season in 2022, have some limitation with draft picks and salary cap and have a new defensive coordinator in position.
GM Andrew Berry also has to decide if he is going to shift some of the ideals that have led his decision-making since arriving three years ago. Most agree that the team needs significant upgrades at defensive tackle, help at defensive end, a change over at linebacker and, possibly, more of a true free safety.
Berry doesn’t have a lot of his own free agents to worry about, at least at the starter level. DE Jadeveon Clowney won’t be returning unless DC Jim Schwartz requires it. Ethan Pocic played well as a fill-in but Nick Haris is supposed to be back next season.
Interestingly, Pro Football Focus identified LB Anthony Walker as the team’s free agent that they can’t lose:
Cleveland can’t afford to spend much on defense outside of perhaps investing in their interior defensive line, which makes Walker a solid option here coming off his torn quadriceps tendon injury. His 85.9 coverage grade over the past two seasons ranks third among off-ball linebackers, and while he can stand to improve against the run — as is the case with almost the entire Browns defense — those improvements are more likely to come via the aforementioned interior defensive line additions and a change in philosophy under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
PFF’s piece is also an interesting one to review to get a look at some of the players that could become free agents and might interest the Browns.
Walker’s value to the team comes both on and off the field. Walker is considered an important leader, helps keep the defense organized as the play caller and is, as noted, really good in coverage.
After signing back-to-back one-year contracts and then getting hurt, it will be interesting what kind of contract Walker will receive this offseason.