The Cleveland Browns added much-needed linebacker depth
This offseason, Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry did a tremendous job building upon the roster left by John Dorsey and put together one of the more well-rounded teams in the NFL. However, their most glaring weakness was at linebacker. The need for reinforcements came during training camp, after starting middle linebacker Mack Wilson was carted off the field with a knee injury. Berry got that help on Sunday.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns signed former Seattle Seahawks linebacker and Super Bowl 48 MVP Malcolm Smith to a contract.
Smith hasn’t found much success after his terrific Super Bowl performance
Smith was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in the 2011 NFL Draft, and spent the majority of his tenure as a rotational linebacker in the “Legion of Boom.” His fame rose during Seattle’s 43-8 Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos, where he recorded nine tackles, recovered a fumble and intercepted a Peyton Manning pass for a touchdown.
Ironically, Smith was an unrestricted free agent after big game, and he signed with the Oakland Raiders on a two-year, $7 million contract. During his two-year stint with the Raiders, Smith accumulated 225 tackles, nine passes defensed, five forced fumbles and four sacks.
Smith cashed in with the San Francisco 49ers on a five-year, $26.5 million contract in 2017, but it didn’t work out too well for him. He suffered a season-ending pectoral tear during training camp that year and made a minimal impact on the team during the 2018 season, leading to his release last summer. In 2019, Smith would play a total of four games between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys.
Signing Smith was a good contingency plan for the Browns, just in case Wilson is out long-term with his hyperextended knee injury. Now, Smith is primed to be Cleveland’s starting middle linebacker in their season-opener against the Baltimore Ravens.