Browns Taking Trade Calls on Starting Defender

Getty Images Browns linebacker Mack Wilson.

Mack Wilson has performed admirably in camp and in the preseason for the Cleveland Browns but his future with the team is still a question.

With cut day arriving for the Browns, the team could look to deal Wilson, a former fifth-round pick of the previous regime with starting experience. Wilson’s stock hasn’t been higher over the last year and a team in need of linebacker help could swoop in and try to trade for the Alabama product.

That’s a reality the Browns have been bracing for, per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer reported on Monday that the Browns have been taking calls on Wilson, gauging the market.

Wilson took over a starting role for the majority of his rookie season. He notched 77 tackles, one interception, a forced fumble, four tackles for loss and defended seven passes. However, his second season started out rocky, with a hyperextended knee during training camp.  Wilson played in 13 games with eight starts, recording 39 tackles. However, he was a healthy scratch on occasion.

Wilson has stepped up his game from last season, albeit it was a low bar. He finished his second season in the NFL with a Pro Football Focus grade of 36.2, which put him in the bottom tier of qualifying linebackers. He graded out at 63.4 on PFF during a preseason in which he played 59 snaps, registering four tackles. He was strong in coverage from his weak-side spot and took advantage of rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah being out first with COVID-19 and then with a head injury suffered during a weightroom accident.

Browns Need Depth at Linebacker

The argument for keeping Wilson would be the lack of depth the Browns possess at linebacker. The Browns waived linebackers Willie Harvey Jr. and Tegray Scales, while both Montrel Meander and Jacob Phillips were lost for the season due to injury.

If the team does not feel Owusu-Koramoah is ready to take over the starting reps, they’ll be timid to deal Wilson, although veteran Malcom Smith would be capable of stepping in as well.

The Browns could also opt to pick up a player off the wire that they like to replace Wilson’s spot on the depth chart.

Anthony Walker, Sione Takitaki, Elijah Lee and Owusu-Koramoah appear locks to make the 53-man roster.

Mack Wilson Was in ‘Dark Place’ After Last Season

Mack Wilson on coping with injuries: "I was able to climb back because that's what true fighters do"Linebacker Mack Wilson addresses the media before practice on August 6, 2021. #PlayerSound2021-08-06T20:04:52Z

Wilson acknowledged during training camp that he was not himself last season and his struggles nearly pushed him to walk away from football entirely.

“I was down. I wanted to quit at times, but I found a way to keep myself motivated to get through last season,” Wilson told reporters on August 6. “That’s how down I was because mentally, we go through a lot as football players. When I got hurt, it was one of my worst moments in my life. Just coming back, I never felt like I was myself. I didn’t feel like I was producing on the field. I couldn’t move like I wanted to. I was missing plays that I knew I should make. I was in a dark place basically.”

The final roster decisions for the Browns and other teams around the NFL are due by 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday.

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