Yet another tragic event in the timeline that is the career of former Longhorn linebacker Malik Jefferson occurred when the Browns waived him last week.
A former star linebacker and five-star recruit that came out of the Texas Longhorns football program, Malik Jefferson, is quickly becoming a career-journeyman in the NFL. Jefferson was a stud during his three-year stint on the Forty Acres, including Freshmen All-America team honors, Second-Team AP All-America honors, and Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year award that came in 2017.
The 23-year-old former third round draft pick (No. 78 overall) of the Cincinnati Bengals from last year already made a run through two different teams from the AFC North. The Bengals were the landing spot where Jefferson started out his NFL journey, but then he worked his way in with the Browns.
It’s also unfortunate for Jefferson that the two worst teams by far of late in the AFC North were the two that he landed on, between the Browns and Bengals. Maybe it would be a different narrative for him right now if he were to land on the other two AFC North squads, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.
But that is not the reality that Jefferson faces at the moment.
According to Pro-Football Reference data, Jefferson was claimed by the Browns after the Bengals sent him to waivers back on Sep. 1 of this year. Less than three months later, Jefferson would be waived and cut officially by Nov. 13. He never got to spend one full season with either the Bengals or the Browns.
Last season with the Bengals, Jefferson was sent to the injured reserve list before the end of the regular season, on Dec. 18. That didn’t occur all that long after the Bengals originally signed Jefferson to his four-year rookie contract deal after they selected him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Most of the snaps that Jefferson got during his brief stint with the Browns came on special teams. He didn’t rack up any significant defensive stats while he suited up for the Browns. During his rookie campaign with the Bengals he racked up 10 combined tackles in 12 games played.
Moreover, this is a sad sign for a 6-foot-3 and 240 pound linebacker that had a lot of promising entering the NFL like Jefferson did. He had 231 career total tackles, 26.0 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks, one fumble recovery (that went for a touchdown), and two forced fumbles during his three seasons with the Longhorns football program.
Hopefully there will be more NFL opportunities that come knocking at Jefferson’s door in due time. He’s too young for his NFL career to come to an end this soon, but he will have to make better headway on his next team. A former third round draft pick getting waived two times in the span of less than two seasons is not a good sign.