Browns Bring in XFL Defensive Player of the Year for Workout

Kevin Stefanski

Getty Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.

The Cleveland Browns are set to host a notable name for a workout in XFL Defensive Player of the Year Pita Taumoepenu.

Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown report first had the news of Taumoepenu’s workout. The outside linebacker’s tryout is slated for May 10.

Taumoepenu, 29, was a sixth-round selection of the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He signed a four-year, $2.5 million entry-level deal but was released after the preseason in 2018. Taumoepenu caught on with the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 but played just one game. He has five tackles in his NFL career.

Pita Taumoepenu: XFL Gave Me Chance to Showcase Skills

Taumoepenu found second life in the XFL, where he thrived as a member of the Vegas Vipers. He led the XFL in forced fumbles with four. He was also No. 2 in the XFL in sacks, racking up 7.5 in 10 games. He had eight tackles for loss and 26 total tackles in the regular season but Vegas finished 2-8. XFL players cannot sign with NFL teams until May 15, per league rules.

Like many players, Taumoepenu embraced the opportunity to be able to showcase his skills in the XFL rather than being buried on the depth chart.

“I’ve been playing in the NFL for the past few years, got drafted by the 49ers, and sometimes when you’re second or third string, you don’t get to show all of your football talent at the highest level. People never get to see what you are capable of doing,” Taumoepenu said, per “In this league, I was able to show everybody what I am able to do. Not just me, but everybody else in the XFL; the XFL gave us a chance to show our talent and express our style and the way we play the game.”

The Browns are no strangers to trying out players from the startup leagues. Last season the Browns brought in 2022 USFL Defensive Player of the Year Chris Odom but he tore his ACL prior to the season.

Browns Still Looking for Depth at Linebacker

Anthony Walker

GettyAnthony Walker Jr. of the Cleveland Browns.

Linebacker is still one of the thinner spots for the Browns, who are shifting to a revamped defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Cleveland didn’t draft a linebacker and there are lingering health questions with players expected to be in the mix for starting roles, including Anthony Walker Jr., Jacob Phillips and Sione Takitaki. All suffered season-ending injuries last season.

Despite that, there is no “urgency” from the Browns to splurge for a linebacker at this point, per Mary Kay Cabot of

“They probably will sign a free agent linebacker or trade for one at some point, but right now, they’re okay with what they have. It’s also not a premium position in Jim Schwartz’ defense, so there’s no sense of urgency to add bodies,” Cabot wrote in her latest Q&A column.

That opens the door for someone like Taumoepenu, who will come at a low cost and could earn himself a roster spot. Browns organized team activities begin May 23.

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