Browns Linebacker Signs on to Return After Exploring Free Agency

Jordan Kunaszyk

Getty Images Jordan Kunaszyk of the Cleveland Browns celebrates recovering a fumble.

Jordan Kunaszyk will return to the Cleveland Browns next season after exploring his options in free agency.

The news of Kunaszyk returning to the Browns comes via Aaron Wilson. The deal is for one year and $1.23 million.

Kunaszyk wasn’t a large contributor for the Browns last season on defense but did appear in 15 games, starting a pair with Cleveland hit hard by injuries at the linebacker position. In all, Kunaszyk had 22 tackles with a forced fumble and pass defended.

Kunaszyk previously played with the Washington Commanders and Carolina Panthers. He explored his options in free agency, which included a visit with the Houston Texans. However,

Kunaszyk saw the majority of his time on special teams and will now get to play for a new special teams coordinator in Bubba Ventrone. He played on punt and kick coverage and returns.

Ventrone Big Addition to Browns Coaching Staff

The Browns replaced special teams coordinator Mike Priefer with Ventrone this offseason, which was a big get for Cleveland.

The move brings Ventrone back to where he played some of his years in the NFL. He served as the Browns’ special teams captain in 2011 and 2012 and spent nearly a decade in the NFL. After gaining a reputation as a stellar special teams player, he started his coaching career with the New England Patriots as an assistant special teams coordinator before landing with the Colts in 2018.

Ventrone was in consideration for the Colts head coaching gig but didn’t get it, with the team instead bringing in Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen for the position.

“I have aspirations to be a head coach at some point, but honestly, my sole focus right now is getting this core unit and these specialists going,” Ventrone said during his introductory press conference. “I am excited for this opportunity. I cannot wait. I am so excited to be back in Cleveland and have this opportunity. I can’t express it enough.”

Having players like Kunaszyk at his disposal will be key for Ventrone and he’s preaching an overall buy-in to special teams, which has been lacking in recent years.

“My message to the team is going to be, ‘Look, if we are going to be a good unit top to bottom, we need contributions from everybody,” Ventrone said. “Whether you are on the field goal block unit, the field goal unit or you are a starter that plays in one or two phases, everybody has to be willing to do their part. If everybody is willing to do their part and no one is going to balk at being on the field for a kicking play, then I think you have an opportunity. You need the buy in.”

Browns Have Been Able to Retain Key Free Agents

The Browns have been able to bring back a few of their own, beyond Kunaszyk. The team signed starting center Ethan Pocic to a three-year, $18 million contract and also brought back linebacker Sione Takitaki on a one-year deal. Backup cornerback AJ Green has also re-signed on a one-year deal.

Some notable names have moved on through free agency, including quarterback Jacoby Brissett and cornerback Greedy Williams. Brissett signed on with the Washington Commanders and will be in the mix for their starting quarterback job.

After some injury-riddled seasons, Willams is hoping a change of scenery will get him on track with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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