After months of waiting out the market, Andrew Berry is executing a deal to bring a complementary edge rusher to Cleveland.
The Browns are acquiring Za’Darius Smith via trade with the Vikings, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Friday.
The full trade will see the Browns acquire Smith and 2025 sixth- and seventh-round draft picks in exchange for sending 2024 and 2025 fifth-round picks to the Vikings, Pelissero reported.
Smith has also reworked his contract, which guarantees him $11.75 million in 2023 and he’ll be a free agent in 2024, Pelissero and Rapoport reported.
Smith heads to Cleveland to join two-time All-Pro Myles Garrett as an edge-rushing tandem. Most importantly, Smith replaces the departed Jadeveon Clowney, who showed flashes of production potential in his two seasons with Cleveland but never performed consistently enough to warrant bringing him back on a third one-year deal.
Smith’s trade follows an excellent season in which he recorded 10 sacks, 44 tackles (15 for loss), five passes defended (a career-high) and one forced fumble with Minnesota. He’ll move to his new destination just a few months before his 31st birthday, joining a Browns defense that has invested in its front, but needed a starting-quality rusher opposite Garrett. Smith will also bring plenty of AFC North playing experience, where he cut his NFL teeth with the Ravens from 2015-2018.
The Browns have been living year by year opposite Garrett for the last few seasons, and this trade fills a glaring void as the team prepares to enter the summer months. If Smith can replicate his 2022 production, Cleveland should enjoy an improvement at a position that was seen as a weakness since the start of the new league year.