Takk McKinley is still in the long-term plans for the Cleveland Browns despite being away from the team for nearly a month.
McKinley has been away from the team since the end of July for an undisclosed reason. The Browns and head coach Kevin Stefanski have been mum about his status, although they’re hopeful he’ll rejoin the team before the start of the season.
Stefanski was asked about McKinley during this week and maintained a similar silence on the topic.
“I do not have an update there,” said Stefanski, who said previously he was hopeful that McKinley would rejoin the team. “I am just going to keep that between Takk and myself.”
Insider: McKinley Still in Browns’ Plans
Stefanski isn’t just spewing out the company line on McKinley. The Browns have been very compassionate about McKinley’s situation and he still factors into their plans for the season, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
McKinley, the Browns’ No. 3 defensive end heading into camp, remains firmly in the Browns’ plans this season, and they’re eager to get him back.
If all goes as hoped, that could be sooner than later. The return of McKinley would be a boost for the defensive line room considering his ability to disrupt the quarterback, even if it doesn’t always translate to sacks. The Browns still have high hopes for McKinley getting his career back on track here because of their belief in his talent.
If McKinley is not ready, the Browns will have to rely on Porter Gustin and Curtis Weaver to provide the depth behind Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, who have both been dealing with injuries during camp.
Browns Brought in McKinley on 1-Year Deal
Prior to bringing in Clowney, the Browns signed McKinley to a one-year deal this offseason worth up to $4 million. McKinley 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,” McKinley told reporters shortly after signing. “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.”
The Browns have one preseason game remaining against the Falcons before their opener on September 12 at the Kansas City Chiefs.