Hope is high in the Land as the Cleveland Browns put together an impressive campaign despite struggling through some serious injuries. Head coach Kevin Stefanski deserves praise for his work keeping the team focused, and should win the NFL Head Coach of the Year. There also needs to be praise heaped on Andrew Berry for the work he did making sure this team had talent from top to bottom.
Cleveland's roster has proven to be very deep but they're going to have a few holes to fill before the 2024 campaign kicks off. They need more help at wide receiver and there's an argument to be made for finding a new left tackle. Throw in the fact that Nick Chubb might not be back in Week 1 and they'll likely need another running back as well.
With those spots needing to be addressed, the Browns have to do what they can to keep some of their pending free agents so they don't have more holes to fill. Here's a look at the top three they need to prioritize this offseason.
3. Sione Takitaki, LB
Cleveland will be trying to lock up Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah with a long-term deal this offseason, as they should. The third-year linebacker was sensational with 101 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions. With the added strength on the defensive line, JOK was finally able to fly around the field and make plays.
As good as he was, no linebacker can get the job done alone. Fortunately for JOK, he had a couple of solid teammates around him: Anthony Walker, Jr. and Sione Takitaki. Walker finished the season ranked 33rd in the league at linebacker according to PFF but Takitaki wasn't too far behind at No. 41.
What makes this more impressive is the fact that Takitaki returned from an ACL tear suffered late in the 2022 season. He not only returned in time for the season opener but he played in 15 games and finished with 65 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and an interception.
Takitaki is set for free agency after signing a one-year deal in 2023 and the same is true for Walker. While Walker has been the better player, he's missed 19 games over the past two seasons. In 2022 while he was out, Takitaki took over in the middle linebacker role and excelled. Since he's able to play multiple spots, has been more durable, and likely will be more affordable, re-signing Takitaki is the way to go this offseason.