CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have struggled to find consistent production next to Myles Garrett along the defensive line, but they may have just solved their issue after swinging a deal with the Minnesota Vikings to acquire 31-year-old pass rusher Za'Darius Smith.
Cleveland parted with fifth round picks in 2024 and 2025 in order to acquire Smith from Minnesota, as well as sixth and seventh round picks in 2025. Smith had his contract reworked for the trade, and he will get paid $11.75 million in 2023 before hitting free agency in 2024.
Smith totaled 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last year, and he'll help replace the inconsistent Jadeveon Clowney along Cleveland's defensive front. Locked on Browns host Jeff Lloyd, speaking to Kevin Oestreicher of Locked on NFL, believes Smith is not only a great on-field addition for Cleveland, he is a great off the field fit as well.
"He's got that type of personality to him, and the Browns need those kind of guys," Lloyd said. "It's one thing to have a bunch of great players, but it's good to have the kind of guys that hold it all together."
Smith and Garrett will form an electric pass rushing tandem, and adding a veteran to a group that includes rookie Isaiah McGuire and second year player Alex Wright should help the entire unit in 2023 - while allowing guys to get more rest and be more productive during their on-field snaps.
There is a lot to like about Cleveland's overall defense this season, with Garrett and Smith joined behind them by linebacker Anthony Walker and defensive backs Denzel Ward, Grant Delpit, and Greg Newsome II.
While Smith's tenure in Cleveland may only last one year, the price to acquire the 31-year-old was minimal and the upside far outweighs the negatives in what should be considered a big win for the Browns on the trade market.