The Cleveland Browns are weighing their options for help in the linebacker corps following what could be a season-ending injury to starter Mack Wilson.
The Browns have looked at a few options, bracing for the worst when it comes to Wilson’s knee woes. But the biggest name the Browns are set to bring in was reported Thursday in former Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. Multiple reports confirmed that Smith would be trying out this week to make the Cleveland squad.
Smith made a name for himself with the Seahawks, helping the team to Super Bowl XLVIII. He recorded ten combined tackles, deflected a pass, recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown as the Seahawks throttled Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos.
Smith never made a Pro Bowl but has been a more than serviceable starter in the NFL. After leaving the Seahawks following the 2014 season, Smith spent time with the 49ers and Raiders. He started 35 games for the two teams before 2019, when he struggled to make and stay on a roster. Last season, Smith appeared in four games — two apiece with the Cowboys and Jaguars. He notched an interception and five tackles.
Mack Wilson Turned Into Strong Producer as Rookie
Smith is athletic enough to fill the void left by Wilson, who was solid both in coverage and in the run game.
Wilson, a fifth-round pick in 2019, emerged as a key starter for the Browns during his rookie season. He stepped in for an injured Christian Kirksey beginning in Week 3 and finished the season with 14 starts, 77 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
The Browns were already looking at options to beef up the unit before Smith went out, with many considering it to be the weakest point of the team.
“You’re basically saying, ‘He’s crap.’ To me that’s how I’m taking it, because you say we’re (the worst) linebacking corps in the National Football League, that’s just total disrespect,” Wilson said Sunday, per Cleveland.com. “I make sure that I remind those guys what these people think of us. I just tell them we’re going to prove them all wrong. Just continue to work and just focus on the task at hand and that’s taking one day at a time. … Everybody gonna find out.”
Browns Still Uncertain How Long Mack Wilson Will Be Out
The Browns are still uncertain how long Wilson will be out, but the worst-case scenario is that he’s out for the season. If he’s out, the Browns will turn to the likes of Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, Montrel Meander, Tae Davis and Solomon Ajayi. Veteran BJ Goodson will likely start at middle linebacker.
“I can go right down the roster and tell you that it’ll be the next man up,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday. “I think there’s a lot of good youth out there and some really athletic players. We’re excited about those guys.”
Wilson has been an outspoken leader for the Browns — both in the locker room and on social media. For him to go down was tough for his teammates.
“It’s definitely disheartening to see a teammate — and for me, a brother — to go down like that,” Goodson said. “He’s in good spirits and staying positive. We hope that he doesn’t (miss time). If he does, it’s an opportunity for someone to step up. We definitely will have some young guys step up.”
READ NEXT: Lakers Veteran Roasted by Snoop Dogg After Loss to Blazers