Latest Browns deal keeps veteran linebacker on board

Malcolm Smith signs one-year deal, was one of team’s leaders in 2020

Malcolm Smith

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Baker Mayfield dramatically cut down on his interceptions last season, to a third of what he threw two years ago, but just in case, the Browns seemingly have a plan: just bring in the guys who have picked him off.

First, they signed former Rams safety John Johnson to a huge deal. He had a key interception against Mayfield in the Rams’ win in 2019.

Today, they brought in former Colts linebacker Anthony Walker for a visit. He intercepted Baker in Indianapolis’ loss to the Browns last October.

But seriously, as Andrew Berry addresses the defense, it’s not just about new faces, it’s about familiar ones as well. Including linebacker Malcolm Smith, who’s staying aboard with a one-year deal.

Smith was more than solid in 2020, second on the team in tackles. But more than that, he’s a leader, which is key on a defense that’s still evolving.

“Leadership is incredibly important,” Smith said on Thursday. “I feel like I’m more of a ‘lead by example, lead with enthusiasm, lead by attention to detail’ type of person. Hopefully you learn by watching me instead of listening.”

Well, he’s been doing some watching of his own ... watching John Johnson play at an elite level for the Rams the past four years, and Smith believes the Browns just landed another leader.

“JJ was a captain with the Rams, so you know, you get a good player like that, comes in as a captain, obviously that means he’s a responsible player that people admire, the way he works, and I think that’ll help,” Smith said.

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