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As the Cleveland Browns make defensive upgrades this offseason, they also look to veteran leaders and new talent to take the team to the next level.
Malcolm Smith, who signed with the Browns last August, has agreed to a one-year contract to return to Cleveland, the team announced Thursday.
Smith finished second on the team in tackles last season and is set to play his 10th season in the league after entering the offseason as a free agent. His veteran leadership is vital for the Browns’ defensive roster.
“I think the prospects at success are what had me most excited,” Smith said. “There’s a level of familiarity here. It was about making the best decision for my family too, as far as taking them to Cleveland and what I saw from being in the city.”
The team believes Smith can help them reach the next level, and Smith said he wants a chance to build.
“We’re going to add some pieces and develop the guys that we have,” he said. “There’s going to be a learning curve for certain situations, but we’re not going to be starting at the basics for everybody. That foundational growth should help us reach another level.”
Although the linebackers room dealt with several injuries throughout the 2020 season, the team was able to look to Smith as a reliable veteran who was prepared for whatever work came his way.
“I’m just trying to add my sauce and bring what I can to the mix,” Smith said. “That has been my thing so far and trying to impart whatever wisdom I have on the guys in the room and take what I can from them. Just trying to build every day.”
Smith finished second on the defense in 2020 with 72 tackles — his highest since 2016 — and added an interception and forced fumble to complete his comeback year with Cleveland.
“For me, it’s just about being happy, going out there and enjoying every step of the way,” Smith said. “‘I’ll be 32 years old in football and have an opportunity to play at this level. I’m thankful.”