NFL free agency tends to show what teams value and what teams are likely to pursue in the NFL draft. Contract values often show that linebackers and running backs are among the least valued players in the NFL. So far in free agency, those sentiments have seemed to continue.
The Cleveland Browns have mostly brought back their linebacker group from last year on cheap deals but have not adding a running back despite losing D’Ernest Johnson and Kareem Hunt still on the market but not gaining traction.
As we did with both defensive end and defensive tackle, we now turn to the linebacker group to see who is still available in NFL free agency. The Browns may not have a ton of space for another free agent but could add another or find one in the NFL draft.
Update: With GM Andrew Berry not selecting a linebacker in this year’s NFL draft this list is still interesting for Cleveland fans. The team did added Mohamoud Diabate as an undrafted free agent. Diabate could be a linebacker at the NFL level.
There are some interesting names even if their games may not fit that big name anymore:
- Deion Jones - Coming over in a cheap deal on a redone contract, Jones struggled in his time in Cleveland. Often it looked like he was only able to use one arm out there. Still, a veteran that could improve under Jim Schwartz and with another offseason to attempt to get healthy.
- Myles Jack - The former UCLA running back/linebacker fell in the draft due to knee concerns. Those concerns have mostly played out as a true problem for Jack but as a depth piece that could help on special teams, a cheap contract could fit him.
- Jaylon Smith - Another linebacker with knee issues, a huge injury against The Ohio State Buckeyes ended his college career, Smith played well for the Dallas Cowboys but seems to have lost most of the pop that made him productive by the time he made it to the New York Giants.
- Rashaan Evans - Probably the best linebacker on this list, Evans played in 98% of the Atlanta Falcons snaps last year leading to 86 tackles, two sacks, six tackles for loss, three QB hits, four passes defended, two fumble recoveries and one fumble forced. Evans will likely wait until after the draft or wait to see if a team loses a player to injury early in offseason activities.
- Anthony Barr - A player HC Kevin Stefanski has a history with from their Minnesota Vikings days, Barr hasn’t played a full season since 2017. He played in just 53% of the Dallas Cowboys snaps last season. Barr could be an injury-replacement option for a lot of teams.
Unlike defensive end and defensive tackle, the linebacker group leaves a lot to be desired. Due to that, Evans will likely wait until a good fit and, perhaps, a good contract before he signs. Other than adding a player in the NFL draft, it doesn’t seem like Cleveland has good options at the linebacker position at this point in the offseason.