Former Browns Linebacker, All-American Inks Deal to Join Cowboys

Malik Jefferson

Getty Malik Jefferson, former linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, sits on the sideline during the game against the Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A former linebacker for the Cleveland Browns has returned to Texas as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Reporter Jori Epstein of USA Today broke the news on Thursday, July 14, that NFL journeyman Malik Jefferson would play the 2022 regular season in the Longhorn State, where he attended college.

“Former Longhorns LB Malik Jefferson has signed with the Cowboys, multiple sources confirm to @usatodaysports,” Epstein wrote. “[The] 2018 third-round pick has played 35 games across stints with [Cincinnati] Bengals, Browns, [Indianapolis] Colts, [Los Angeles] Chargers. Now an opportunity with his hometown team in Dan Quinn’s defense.”

Jefferson played against the Browns during his rookie season with the Bengals, appearing in 12 games and registering 10 tackles on the year. He played mostly on special teams, lining up for 63 percent of Cincinnati’s special teams plays in 2018.

The linebacker came over the Cleveland the following year, where he was also utilized primarily as a special teams player. He appeared in nine games for the Browns that season, playing 116 snaps on special teams and just one snap as a member of the defense.

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Browns’ Linebacking Corps Has Something to Prove in 2022

GettyDE Myles Garrett (left) and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (right) of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after stopping QB Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears (not pictured) during the first half of a game at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

While Jefferson will have no say in it, the Browns’ group of linebackers head into the 2022 regular season with something to prove.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is poised for a breakout season after a rookie year that saw him register 76 tackles, including three for loss, four quarterback hits, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks in 14 games, per Pro Football Reference. He also earned a 76.5 rating from Pro Football Focus, which takes into account advanced statistics.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN on July 7 published a list of the NFL’s top off-ball linebackers, as voted on by personnel from around the league. While Owusu-Koramoah fell short of the top 10, he was noted as an honorable mention.

“I really liked what I saw when I studied him,” an AFC personnel director told Fowler. “He’ll be a top-10 linebacker by the end of next year.”

Joining Owusu-Koramoah in the lineup again next season will be linebacker Anthony Walker, who the Browns re-signed in March on a one-year deal worth $4.25 million, per Spotrac.

Browns Need Help Along Interior of Defensive Line

Ndamukong Suh

GettyDT Ndamukong Suh of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on during the second half of a game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Where the Browns need the most help on defense is the interior of the defensive line.

Cleveland has been reported to have interest in former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Ndamukong Suh, per Tyler Dragon of USA Today on Wednesday, July 13. However, Mary Kay Cabot of reported otherwise on the same afternoon.

The Browns’ defense struggled up the middle last year before parting ways with both starting defensive tackles this offseason.

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