Quarterback Baker Mayfield was one of the first people to reach out to Anthony Walker after he signed with the Cleveland Browns, a signal for the 25-year-old linebacker that he made the right choice in free agency.
Walker broke down his decision to sign with the Browns while speaking to the local media for the first time on Monday and was very complimentary of his new quarterback.
“He texted me right after the news was announced. He reached out to me,” Walker said. “When you have the franchise quarterback reaching out to you when you first sign and know you are becoming a part of the team, it is always nice to get that welcome. Definitely was appreciative of him for that.”
Anthony Walker Says Baker Mayfield an ‘Elite’ QB
The Colts played the Browns last year — a game Cleveland won 32-23. Mayfield didn’t have his best performance of the season, passing for 247 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But Walker was a fan of Mayfield going back to his college days.
“It is funny, one of my [former] teammates texted me the other day and was like, ‘Oh, I see why you were defending Baker Mayfield in our locker room, because you wanted to go play for Cleveland,'” Walker joked. “But I told him before, Baker Mayfield impressed me in college–the way he played at Oklahoma. Obviously, he always had that chip on his shoulder being a walk-on. Nothing but much respect to him for that.”
Walker even went as far as to use “elite” to describe Mayfield.
#Browns LB Anthony Walker on joining Baker after facing him last season: "Baker Mayfield impressed me in college. For me, I know he can make every throw. When you're playing against an elite QB, you have to make sure the front and back end are working together."
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) March 22, 2021
“When you are playing against an elite quarterback, you have to make sure that the front and the backend are working together and that was our main topic that week,” he said. “Nothing but respect for Baker.”
Walker Felt Browns Trending Right Direction
The Browns are coming off their first playoff win in over a quarter-century and have improved tremendously on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. Walker is part of a free-agent class that includes safety John Johnson III, cornerback Troy Hill, defensive end Takkarist McKinley and veteran defensive tackle Malik Jackson. That should help improve a unit that ranked 21st in the NFL in points allowed at 26.2 per game and was a major liability in the postseason.
“When you see a team trending in the right direction, you want to be a part of that,” Walker said. “Seeing them play last year, seeing the pieces they are adding this year, you know they are building something special.”
Walker was a fifth-round pick in 2017 and moved into a starting role during his second season in the league. He’s notched a pair of 100 tackle seasons, including 124 in 2019. He also has a trio of interceptions in his career.
He joins a young linebacker room that includes 2019 draftees Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki, as well as Jacob Phillips, who Cleveland selected in the third round last year.
Baker Mayfield Primed for Big Season With Browns
Last season was crucial for Mayfield and he came through in a big way, proving he could be the quarterback of the future for the Browns. After a fairly disappointing second season — passing for 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions — Mayfield bounced back with 26 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions.
Big things are expected out of Mayfield this season as he gets a second year in an offense for the first time in his career. While nothing is too urgent, the Browns face a decision this offseason on his future, with the opportunity to pick up his fifth-year option — which would be valued at just over $10.5 million — or extend him long term.
“We have been pretty consistent with our messaging around Baker that we think he had a really strong season for us, we like the maturation and the growth, both on and off the field and we are looking forward to him continuing to take strides in his second year in the offense,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry told reporters earlier this month.