MAY 16: Further details on Smith’s re-worked contract are in, as noted (on Twitter) by ESPN’s Field Yates. The Vikings will be on the hook for the $1.177MM signing bonus included in his deal. As for the Browns, they will see a cap charge of only $3.032M this season before Smith hits the open market. He will be able to earn a maximum of nearly $13MM in cashflow, however, meaning this swap could still prove to be a rather lucrative one.
With Smith having passed a physical, both teams have announced that the trade is now official.
MAY 12: The Vikings have come to an agreement with the Browns that will send pass rusher Za’Darius Smith to Cleveland, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
The deal finally happens for Smith after he requested his release two months ago. The Browns will receive Smith, a 2025 sixth-round pick, and a 2025 seventh-round pick, while the Vikings will receive a 2024 fifth-round pick and a 2025 fifth-round pick.
Originally, Smith was under a three-year, $42MM contract through the 2024 season. He had a base salary this year of $9.45MM with only $5MM of it guaranteed. After changing agents and requesting a release, Smith was able to get a reworked deal that would guarantee him $11.75MM in 2023 and allow him to hit free agency a year earlier, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
The new deal presumably made Smith a bit easier to trade, negating the cap hits of $15.49MM in 2023 and $21.67MM in 2024. The Browns should inherit this new contract from Minnesota, giving Smith a one-year tryout in Cleveland. The former Ravens and Packers edge defender will turn 31 just before the season begins.
In Smith, the Browns are obtaining a productive pass rusher to pair with Myles Garrett. The Browns tied for 27th in the league in sacks last year after failing to find any pressure outside of what Garrett provided. Garrett had his usual strong outing, matching his career-high of 16 sacks in 2022. The team’s second-leading pass rusher was defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who tallied only three.
Smith provides that missing fire support. Since leaving Baltimore as a prime free agent in 2019, Smith has had double-digit sack seasons in any year in which he started multiple games (he only made one appearance in 2021 due to a back injury), making the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons. In those four years (essentially three seasons), Smith has 36 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, and 84 quarterback hits, forcing six forced fumbles and deflecting seven passes for good measure.
Smith immediately stands to slot in as a starter opposite Garrett, though the Browns also signed free agent edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo from the Texans. He, Garrett and Smith will present an interesting trio. The Browns used Jadeveon Clowney as Garrett’s top sidekick for the past two years, but clashes with the coaching staff will almost definitely nix a third Garrett-Browns contract agreement. As for the Vikings, they signed one of this year’s top defensive free agents — Marcus Davenport — and the former Cameron Jordan Saints wingman now has a clear path to start opposite Danielle Hunter.
The Browns have all they can handle facing Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson twice a year. With Smith meeting Garrett at the quarterback, Cleveland has retooled itself, setting it up well for the challenges ahead while not needing to give up too much draft capital to do so.
33 comments on “Vikings Trade Za’Darius Smith To Browns”
He keeps wearing out his welcome, hmm
seems like the browns always get ripped off in trades.
oh he’s worth a 7th? we’ll give you 2 5ths.
It’s basically one fifth because a seventh added to a sixth is common for trading up to a fifth.
Seems like a good deal for the Browns. They got a pro bowl DE that has 36 sacks in his last 3 healthy seasons
Only 5ths?? Ugh…
Cap space is worth more than Smith so likely the best they were going to get
And cap space which is likely worth more
Saved $12.1M in cap space! Worth it! Plus he signed as a free agent! So essentially got picks for signing Smith
Only 5ths?? Yikes..
maybe because he stunk after the 5th game last year…good riddance
He wanted out. Last year of a deal. But still a little light. Should have got the picks without giving up picks
He’ll be the Clowney for Garrett if Clowney was actually any good.
Or the Clowney for Garrett when Clowney wasn’t good.
There’s a reason he got dumped for the equivalent of a 5th…
Probably got dumped for a 5th because he only had double digit sacks last year
…Or because he had half a sack the entire second half of the season.
I’m sure you thought Clowney would be a 15 sack guy in CLE too
Well, since Clowney never ever was a double digit sack guy, you’d be wrong in your thinking. At least this guy will play. Remember when the Steelers traded for William Jackson and he never played a down? That was brilliant
They literally gave up nothing, but sure, it seemed questionable at the time and plain dumb in hindsight. Great burn.
Smith on the other hand will simply be another in a long line of overhyped Browns FA/trade acquisitions that end up busting.
The guy has 36 sacks his last 3 years. And he’s the 2nd best pass rusher on the team. You can be a hater, but don’t look foolish doing it
Heh, any foolishness on my part pales in comparison to how that franchise has been run the last 2+ decades!
They’ve had more recent playoff success than the Steelers. If it wasn’t for the Steelers, the Browns would be close to 30 years of non playoff wins. Thanks for being more inept than the Browns
Ah yes, AKA Cleveland’s Super Bowl. How was the parade after that win?
I know that was meant as a dig, but its really just kind of sad. I guess every Franchise has its own standards though!
Like I said before, the past of a sports franchise doesn’t really mean much anymore. The Oakland A’s have won multiple World Series and yet those mean nothing.
Minnesota needs a better GM.
need a better owner…one who is willing to tank to win a championship a couple years later…than the .500 crap we’ve put up with forever
Seems like a no brainer for Cleveland. Gave up little to get a bookend.
Vikings got something for a guy who didn’t want to be there and freed up some space. Browns got an elite at times but often injured edge rusher. Seems like both the teams will be happy with this deal.
Good trade when you get cap space and some late picks for someone who didn’t want to be there.
Next up Cook in June.
Future draft picks won’t be able to help your already weak defense in the upcoming year. I have no problem with Minnesota getting rid of a malcontent, but a 10 sack player is worth a pick AND a player who can get on the field in 2023. Throwing all those near-worthless picks into the deal is just cover for a bad deal.
Davenport replaces Smith and his lack of production in the second half. Davenport May not get to double digits in sacks. But if he can be consistent all year I guess it is an improvement. So addition by subtraction.
Okay they have a lesser player that can step in – so that means they should have asked for a 3rd round pick and just forgot about all those pick swaps that will never make the team.
Never cared for him….Seemed like a loud mouth prima donna who acted like he’d never got a sack b4 when he celebrated doing his job. Then wouldn’t say crap after getting blown out of the next 5 plays. Totally disappeared the back half of the season.
Absurd pay for doing ONE thing fairly well , not greatly.
Browns are spending like they’ve won a lottery. Does this mean they might be relevant this year?