Browns Make Final Call on Re-Signing Veteran Anthony Walker

Anthony Walker

Getty Anthony Walker Jr. of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns are bringing back veteran linebacker Anthony Walker Jr.

The news of Walker’s return to Cleveland was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.

“Browns’ free-agent linebacker Anthony Walker, who visited this week with the Commanders, has agreed to return to Cleveland on a one-year contract, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Walker walked away from his visit with the Commanders without a deal signed, but it likely gave him a better perspective on his market value. He has played on a pair of one-year deals with the Browns, including a $4.25 million contract last season. The terms of his latest contract were not immediately available.

Anthony Walker Wanted to Return to Browns

Getty ImagesMiddle linebacker Anthony Walker of the Cleveland Browns.

Walker had expressed that he wanted to return to Cleveland, although he was realistic with his expectations.

“I love Cleveland,” Walker said in January. “I hate packing up and moving. That’s one of my pet peeves. But it’ll be exciting if I’m able to be back here.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business though. I understand that. When I was a younger guy, I probably didn’t understand that as much. I remember my coach, my rookie year (with the Colts), was like, ‘The team won’t look the same next year,’ and it was literally a whole different team. That’s what the NFL is.”

When Walker went down last year, it sent reverberations through the locker room. Various Browns spoke out during free agency that they’d like him back, including cornerback Greg Newsome and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

Anthony Walker Coming Off Torn Quad

Walker is coming off a torn quad tendon, which resulted in him missing the final 14 games of the season. However, he was highly respected in the locker room and was productive in the middle of the defense for the Browns.

Jacob Phillips and Walker were named “co-starters” in camp last season, although it was Walker who really thrived early. He posted an overall grade of 82.7 on Pro Football Focus before the injury and was elite in coverage.

Walker was the Browns’ leading tackler in 2021, notching 113 tackles. He’ll compete for the starting gig and will have to win over new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is looking to build an attacking unit in Cleveland.

“I like to call it an ‘attack defense,'” Schwartz said. “We’re not a ‘read’ team up front. We’re an ‘attack’ team. We’re going to be disruptive. We’re hitting spots. It’s probably not as wide as it used to be, but it’s pretty simple in theory.

“It allows the players to play fast and puts them in the best position to rush the quarterback and play the run in between.”

Walker will see some new faces on the defensive side of the ball, including defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, Ogbo Okoronkwo and safety Juan Thornhill. The trio are expected to all be starters when the season kicks off and should help the unit become more consistent after a disappointing season that was defined by blown assignments and a lack of ability to stop the run.
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