According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via an agent), Indianapolis Colts free agent starting linebacker Anthony Walker is signing a 1-year, $3.5 million deal with the Cleveland Browns:
Former Colts’ LB Anthony Walker is signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Browns, per @DrewJRosenhaus.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2021
He visited the Browns earlier this week on a free agent visit.
Having been a 2017 5th round pick of the Colts, the 6’1”, 230 pound linebacker is coming off a 2020 season in which he had 92 tackles (65 solo), 2 tackles for loss, an interception, 5 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery in all 16 starts.
Even though he wasn’t the most explosive athlete at linebacker, Walker was cerebral, instinctive, consistent, a sure tackler, and a defensive leader in the Colts locker room.
However, with emerging soon-to-be third-year linebacker Bobby Okereke’s most natural position at the ‘Mike’, Walker’s former position, the Colts are clearly looking to get faster, more athletic, and better adept at coverage overall—where Walker sometimes struggled in space covering receivers.
His linebacker ‘partner-in-crime’ and good friend, All-Pro Darius Leonard, took the latest news pretty hard—as did other Colts teammates:
Crazy to see such an amazing person, leader, player and a friend leave a locker room!— Darius Leonard (@dsleon45) March 19, 2021
Amazing player man, he does everything the right way! It sucks that he’s leaving but Cleveland is gaining a Dawg! He’s a great leader and he’s going to lead your defense to be great! I will truly miss him! I give him a lot of credit for my success! I wouldn’t be me without him!— Darius Leonard (@dsleon45) March 19, 2021
you’ll never understand the affect a teammate can have on another.— Kenny Moore II (@KennyKennyMoe3) March 19, 2021
Unfortunately, the Colts cannot keep everyone this time of year.
However, given the relative meager price and one year, it sounds as though the Colts were already committed to moving on from Walker this offseason—as the team makes its linebacking corps more dynamic collectively as a unit.