Browns Eyeing Reunion With Former 1st-Round Pick

Takkarist McKinley

Getty Images Former Cleveland Browns DE Takkarist McKinley.

The Cleveland Browns are interested in bringing back defensive end Takkarist McKinley to beef up their pass-rush.

The “mutual interest” between the Browns and McKinley was reported by Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report.

“Takkarist McKinley is doing great rehab-wise. I’m told he has ‘transformed his body and is on a mission to be an impact player this season,'” Stainbrook tweeted on July 15. “Mutual interest exists between Takk and Browns. The plan, as of now, is to join a team during camp if possible, or during [the] season.”

The Browns inked McKinley to a one-year deal last offseason, taking a gamble on the former first-round pick after a turbulent season. He had 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.

McKinley was a solid rotational piece for the Browns behind Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett but ruptured his Achilles tendon in the Week 15 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Prior to the injury, he had recorded 18 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

Browns Made Moves to Solidify Pass-Rush

While the Browns made a splash with a trade for Deshaun Watson, one of the most important moves the team made was bringing back Clowney after a resurgent year to play opposite of Garrett. Clowney turned down more money to return to Cleveland, per NFL Network inside Ian Rapoport.

“Clowney wanted to be back in Cleveland. How badly?” Rapoport tweeted. “He turned down $14 million to $15 million a year offers from other teams on multi-year deals to go back.”

Clowney notched nine sacks, good for second on the team behind Garrett. He also did a lot of things that didn’t show up in the box score and was highly effective as a run-stopper. He missed just two games — one with an elbow issue and the other due to COVID-19 — establishing himself as a consistent, reliable starter in the NFL once again.

The Browns also traded for edge rusher Chase Winovich, shipping out linebacker Mack Wilson in the deal.

Myles Garrett Eyeing Another Big Year

The Browns have an All-Pro in Garrett anchoring the defensive line and the former top overall pick is hungry for another big season after setting the franchise single-season sack record with 16 a year ago. He’s notched double-digit sacks in every season since his rookie year, when he played just 11 games.

Garrett didn’t join the Browns during minicamp on a trip to the Hall of Fame in Canton, previously saying he wouldn’t step foot in there until he got in.

“It’s kind of strange. I don’t want to see [the Hall]. I want to see it if I’m able to achieve my goal,” Garrett told the Akron Beacon-Journal as a rookie. “It’s kind of like a test to me. You don’t deserve to go there unless you’re good enough to be in it. I want to see the greatness that’s come before me, but I also want to be a part of it.”

The Browns defensive line was ranked No. 20 by Pro Football Focus heading into the year, although that was more focused on the team having an inexperienced talent pool at the defensive tackle position.

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