CLEVELAND — Takkarist McKinley hasn't had an easy journey in the league, and despite finding success on the Browns last season, before he makes a decision to stay or leave Cleveland, he's going to focus on his recovery, a league source told News 5.
McKinley became an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year Wednesday. He had originally signed a one-year, $4.25 million contract with the Browns in March of 2021.
Selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 26 overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, McKinley has struggled with injuries over the course of his career and played in just four games with Atlanta before being released.
The defensive end was claimed by the Bengals and then the 49ers in November 2020, but was unable to pass physicals due to a lingering groin injury. He was later claimed by the Raiders and placed on injured reserve, and although he was able to practice with the team in December, he was not activated from IR.
Even at the start of training camp with the Browns, McKinley had to take some time away, not for injury but for an undisclosed personal reason. Despite the bumpy moments in his career, McKinley pushed through and with the support of the Browns and his teammates, he returned to the team and worked hard to be an impactful part of the defensive line rotation.
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Unfortunately, injury struck again last season when McKinley suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the Week 15 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. The injury required surgery, from which McKinley is currently recovering from.
McKinley recorded 18 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble last season with the Browns.
But now, an unrestricted free agent, McKinley's future has yet to be determined.
According to a league source, the Browns may be interested in re-signing McKinley and bringing him back, but a deal has not been made. McKinley is said to be considering making a decision about signing, with Cleveland or elsewhere, while continuing to focus on his health. The decision may come further along in recovery, sources said.
In the meantime, the Browns have done some work at addressing the defensive line, adding Chase Winovich to the roster via a trade with the New England Patriots.
"We're excited about adding Chase Winovich to our defense," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He's a high-energy football player with relentless pass-rush ability and we think he will fit in well with our defensive scheme."
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Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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