CLEVELAND, Ohio — Colts two-time All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard took the departure of Colts middle linebacker Anthony Walker to the Browns extremely hard Friday.
“Well, I’m about to cry,’’ Leonard tweeted right after news broke that Walker, 25, agreed to a one-year deal with the Browns worth up to $3.5 million with bonuses and incentives. “If y’all actually understood the impact he has a on a locker room.’’
Walker, who started 48 games for the Colts, will likely replace Browns free-agent middle linebacker B.J. Goodson, unless he’s re-signed by the club soon. He’ll also replace some of Goodson’s inspirational leadership.
“Amazing player man, he does everything the right way! It sucks that he’s leaving but Cleveland is gaining a Dawg!’’ Leonard tweeted. “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!’’
And, “Crazy to see such an amazing person, leader, player and a friend leave a locker room!’’
Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II weighed in too.
“You’ll never understand the affect a teammate can have on another,’’ he tweeted. “We all signed up for this and that’s okay. But talking about this moment then it actually happening is totally different.’’
Walker, who visited the Browns on Thursday, made his mark on the Browns last season during their 32-23 victory over the Colts when he picked off Baker Mayfield with 7:05 left to make things tense at FirstEnergy Stadium.
A fifth-round pick of the Colts out of Northwestern in 2017, Walker (6-foot-1, 230), has amassed 343 tackles, 19 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 11 passes defensed, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries in his four seasons. He started all 16 games last season and recorded 92 tackles, but third-year linebacker Bobby Okereke is set to take over that spot for the Colts.
According to Pro Football Focus, Walker had the 16th-best tackling efficiency and was 20th in tackling grade among qualifying linebackers in 2020.
The Browns re-signed 11th-year linebacker Malcolm Smith to a one-year deal on Wednesday, and will continue to try to upgrade the position.
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