The Cleveland Browns trade for edge rusher Za’Darius Smith won’t become official until Monday. There are still contract-related details that are uncertain at this point in time including whether the Minnesota Vikings will pickup any of Smith’s salary and whether GM Andrew Berry has agreed to an adjusted contract with his new defensive lineman.
With the Browns getting over $11 million in cap space in two weeks thanks to the post-June 1st releases of John Johnson III and Jadeveon Clowney, Berry might not be finished improving the roster via trade.
What could be considered an NFL trade rumor, Cleveland was just one of three suitors for Smith in a trade. As shared Saturday, there were reasons that Smith was available but a talented edge rusher is going to have interest around the league. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Smith saw the Browns as appealing among the three interested in him:
Cleveland combed pass-rush market, including free agency. Found Z Smith strong fit— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 13, 2023
Smith had two other suitors but found chance to play opposite Myles Garrett appealing. https://t.co/BiaYOauhEd
Fowler stops just short of saying that Smith chose to come to Cleveland but, if there are contract alterations, it could be implied.
Last year with the Vikings, Smith was a one-two punch with Danielle Hunter with Hunter having a half sack more (10.5 to 10) to his now former teammate. Smith had more tackles for loss (15 to 12) but Minnesota didn’t have a lot of pass rush help besides those two with two linebackers tied for third on the team with four sacks.
The Browns had similar issues last season with Myles Garrett leading the way with 16 sacks and no one else having more than three. Now, with Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Isaiah McGuire, Dalvin Tomlinson and Smith on board (among others), Cleveland hopes to have a much bigger impact on quarterbacks.
Smith saw playing with Garrett on the Browns as appealing. If he lives up to his history, Cleveland fans will find this move the same.