Browns DE Takk McKinley Makes Statement With New Look

Getty Images Takkarist McKinley of the Atlanta Falcons.

Newly-signed Cleveland Browns defensive end Takk McKinley dressed to impress in his first press conference, sending a message that he’s ready for a change.

McKinley showed up wearing a suit and tie, a change from what the former first-round pick might have done in the past.

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“This game is a business. I just think in my younger days — I am only 25 so I can’t really say ‘younger days’ like that — but in 2017 when I first got into this league, people would tell me things and I kind of just thought my way was the best way or whatnot or I would do certain interviews and be very immature about it,” McKinley shared with reporters, per the Browns official site. “Once again, this league is not promised. It is a privilege to be here talking to you. I feel like I am at the point in my career where if I want to be in this league, I need to start acting like it. Today it was not to look good but it was for myself and everybody else to know I mean nothing but business.”

McKinley later showed off the new number he’ll be wearing with the Browns, which is 55. He previously wore No. 98 with the Falcons.

McKinley Eager for Turnaround With Browns

Takkarist McKinley: "To know that a team sees what I'm worth and believes in me means the world."Defensive End Takkarist McKinley addressed the media via Zoom on March 19 2021. Takkarist discussed his recent signing with the Browns, what made it an easy decision for him, playing with Myles Garrett this season, and what he hopes to bring to the Browns defense. #PlayerSound2021-03-19T17:27:09Z

It’s a good first-impression in Cleveland for McKinley, who has already had some highs and lows to his NFL career. He collected 13 of his 17.5 career sacks in his first two years in the league and showed the talent that made him a first-round pick. However, he was cut by Atlanta in November after a social media tirade and he wasn’t able to get on the field after that. He signed with the Bengals, 49ers and Raiders, but was never healthy enough to suit up.

“You always have your highs and you always have your lows. That is just life. Life is a rollercoaster,” he told reporters. “For me, the biggest thing is to learn from my mistakes. I am not perfect. I made a lot of mistakes in my past. However, if I want to grow from that, I just do not make the same mistake twice. As far as the opportunity goes, sometimes a fresh start is the best thing for everyone. I am just very, very excited to be a part of the Cleveland Browns knowing how bad they wanted me and knowing the opportunity that lies in front of me.”

McKinley has a chance to be the starter opposite of All-Pro Myles Garrett, although the Browns could fill the role by committee with the likes of Porter Gustin and any other bodies they bring on in free agency. The team is unlikely to bring back last year’s starter Olivier Vernon, who ruptured his Achilles in Cleveland’s regular-season finale.

Browns See Big Upside With McKinley

While McKinley has a bit of history, the Browns didn’t gamble too big on the former Falcon. He’s on a one-year, prove-it deal worth $4.25 million.

If he flashes the potential he showed early on in his career, it will be an absolute steal.

“Takk is a skilled young player with tremendous upside,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in a release. “We like his pass rush ability and the way he’s gotten after the QB throughout his young career. Defensive line was a position that we felt we wanted to address during free agency, and we are excited to add Takk and the impactful tools he possesses to the group that will help make the plays we need along the line.”

McKinley is part of a Browns free-agent class that includes newcomers in safety John Johnson, cornerback Troy Hill and linebacker Anthony Walker.

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