When the Browns entered the legal tampering period on Monday, this was one of the positions they were expected to be pursuing heavily. They were reportedly interested in C.J. Mosley, but Mosley agreed to a massive deal with the New York Jets. Since Mosley went off the market, most of the other top free agent linebackers have already agreed to deals.
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In 2018, the Browns linebackers were arguably the worst unit on the defense. They struggled to cover tight ends and running backs, and offenses took advantage of that weakness. They also made a minimal impact in the run game.
Currently, the Browns starting linebackers are expected to be Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert, and Genard Avery. Following the release of Jamie Collins, Avery is expected to be the linebacker that fills into the starting role.
However, Avery is best suited to be a pure pass rusher instead of playing as an off-ball linebacker. Although he has shown the athleticism to move well in space, his coverage skills would create a lot of problems for the Browns defense.
Ideally, the Browns should try to find a linebacker who excels in coverage, but can also hold his own against the run. One free agent who fits that mold that is currently available at the time of writing is K.J. Wright. But even if they can’t sign Wright, finding a linebacker should be a focus the rest of the off-season.