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Cleveland Browns unlikely to retain Malik McDowell after arrest on charges of public exposure, assaulting deputy

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Malik McDowell's big chance with the Cleveland Browns has almost certainly ended.

The defensive tackle with a long history of off-field trouble is highly unlikely to be retained as an exclusive rights free agent in March because of his latest brush with the law, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

McDowell, 25, was arrested at 1:25 p.m. local time on Monday by the Broward Sheriff’s Office on charges of indecent exposure in public, resisting arrest with violence and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer in Deerfield Beach, Florida, according to an arrest report obtained by the Beacon Journal.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel first reported the arrest.

The Browns will continue to gather facts surrounding the arrest, the person familiar with the situation said, but the incident is expected to result in the franchise moving on from McDowell. His one-year contract with the Browns is set to officially expire at 4 p.m. March 16, when free agency begins.

“We are aware of the very concerning incident and arrest involving Malik McDowell and are in the process of gathering more information," a Browns spokesperson said Tuesday in a prepared statement. "We understand the severity of this matter and our thoughts are for the well-being of all involved. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Messages seeking comment from McDowell's agents were not immediately returned.

Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Malik McDowell is fighting for a roster spot.
Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Malik McDowell is fighting for a roster spot.

McDowell appeared before Broward County Judge Phoebee Francois on Tuesday and was being held at the Broward County Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale on a $31,000 bond as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to court and Broward Sheriff’s Office records.

An officer whose name was redacted from the arrest report stated he responded Monday to a call about a naked man walking near a school. The officer wrote McDowell had been "walking around the street naked exposing his sexual organs in view of the public."

McDowell’s defense attorney, Adam Swickle, said in the Local 10 News video, “Apparently somebody may have slipped him something or given [McDowell] something that he was unaware of, which explains some of this bizarre behavior.”

Swickle told the Beacon Journal by phone Tuesday evening, "We're investigating the totality of the circumstances. You never know where that's necessarily going to lead. ... We're obviously exploring all issues related to his arrest."

The officer wrote when he arrived at the scene he saw McDowell sitting on a curb. When the officer approached the player, McDowell charged him "at full speed" and "began swinging closed fist punches" with at least one strike landing on the officer's right eye and temple area, according to the incident report.

"I was dazed and felt extreme pain in the area I was struck," the officer wrote.

The officer wrote McDowell continued his attack and landed additional strikes atop the officer's head. The officer stated he countered and landed strikes in the chest area of McDowell, but when he tried to grab the 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman and take him to the ground, McDowell slipped away and fled on foot.

McDowell was tasered after a short pursuit on foot, handcuffed and taken into custody, according to the arrest report.

The officer stated he couldn't walk without assistance after the altercation due to extreme pain in his left heel and Achilles area. He also wrote he suffered an injury to his eye socket "to the point that my eye was almost completely closed," plus "swelling to the top of my head." The officer wrote there is a "substantial likelihood that I sustained permanent injury to my eye/eye socket area."

McDowell had already been on probation for two counts of resisting arrest in Michigan, according to the incident report from Florida. The end date of his probation in Michigan is Nov. 13, 2022, according to the arrest report.

McKinsey Golfin, McDowell's probation officer in Michigan, told the Beacon Journal's Marla Ridenour by phone he learned of the Detroit native's arrest just before 3 p.m. Tuesday. He said McDowell's probation violation in Michigan will be handled by the Sixth Circuit Court in Oakland County.

McDowell's NFL career came to an abrupt stop in 2017 before it began. Drafted early in the second round (35th overall) by the Seattle Seahawks out of Michigan State University, McDowell suffered serious injuries, including to his head, in an ATV accident in July 2017 and subsequently committed a series of crimes to which he eventually pleaded guilty.

Three of his arrests involved alcohol, including one during which he assaulted a police officer at a gas station. Another arrest stemmed from him possessing a stolen truck. He was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years of probation in 2019.

Despite McDowell being out of football for four years, the Browns researched him and ultimately gave him a shot to resurrect his career by signing him this past May.

McDowell started 14 of the 15 games in which he appeared during the 2021 season and compiled 33 tackles, three sacks and five quarterback hits.

With McDowell expected to be done in Cleveland, the Browns will probably be in the market for two new starting defensive tackles for the 2022 season.

Starter Malik Jackson and fellow veteran Sheldon Day are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March. Jordan Elliott, a 2020 third-round draft pick, and Tommy Togiai, a 2021 fourth-round choice, are the only defensive tackles on the roster who are under contract next season.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns' Malik McDowell arrested for public exposure, assaulting deputy