5 impending free agents the Cleveland Browns should sign in 2023

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Browns
Browns, Anthony Walker Jr. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

1. Anthony Walker, Jr., Linebacker

The main focus up until now has been on outside free agents but there are impending free agents already in Cleveland that need to stay. There’s more than one name they should negotiate with but the top priority should be linebacker Anthony Walker, Jr.

A free agent signing ahead of the 2021 season, Walker had 113 tackles in just 13 games a year ago. This season, he played in just three games and had 13 tackles before suffering a torn quad that ended his campaign.

His numbers weren’t eye-popping this season, but his importance is felt beyond that. Walker stepped up and became the vocal leader of this team when things were falling apart. After the loss to the New York Jets — and the near-loss the week prior to Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers — fingers were being pointed all around.

Walker was the one who tried to keep everyone on the same page and discussed how the team needs to improve, rather than pointing to individuals. He also said the main issue they were facing as a defense was communication and since he was the one who relayed the plays from defensive coordinator Joe Woods to the men on the field, the issue was ultimately on him.

His approach was refreshing and his leadership has been missed while he’s been out. Bringing him back would give them a capable starter, but more importantly, a much-needed leader.