CLEVELAND (AP) — Free agent linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. is returning to the Browns after missing most of last season with an injury that rocked Cleveland’s defense, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Walker has agreed to a one-year contract with the Browns, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been signed.
The 27-year-old Walker tore a quadriceps tendon in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and missed the rest of 2022. Without him, Cleveland’s defense not only lost an experienced player but one of its top communicators and leaders.
ESPN first reported Walker’s return.
Walker posted a photo on Twitter of himself on the field with the Browns with the caption: Nobody cares; WORK Harder!!”
The Browns sustained a rash of injuries at linebacker last season with Walker, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Jacob Phillips all suffering season-ending injuries. Those losses along with some other problems led to Cleveland’s 7-10 record and led to the firing of coordinator Joe Woods, who has been replaced by former Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
Walker signed with the Browns in 2021 as a free agent and started 12 games after spending four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. After getting hurt, Walker stayed around the Browns while undergoing therapy to support his younger teammates.
Cleveland has focused primarily on fixing its defense during free agency with several prominent signings, including tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and safety Juan Thornhill.
The Browns also re-signed linebacker Sione Takitaki, who stepped in and played well following the other injuries.