March 4, 2024

Just as I’m settling into a calm Friday night, I pick up my phone to check what’s happening in the world and BOOM, Browns GM Andrew Berry does it again. A trade. A very good trade. A highway robbery trade. The team traded fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025 for three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Za’Darius Smith, a sixth-round pick in 2025 and a sixth-round pick in 2026. Again, highway robbery. This deal gives the Browns the veteran presence opposite Myles Garrett. Last year with the Vikings, Smith had 10 sacks and 80 pressures. Those pressures would be half of what the Browns had last year if you remove the pressures from Garrett. In 2022, Smith ranked sixth in pass-rush win rate (21.8%), ninth in pass-rush grade (85.4) and 14th in pass-rush productivity (9.0) according to Pro Football Focus.

In the first 10 games of 2022, Smith had nine sacks and 55 pressures. An ankle injury in game 10 versus the Bills slowed him down, but he still finished 18th in pressures for edge rushers. He can also play inside and is good against the run. In 2022, he received the second-highest run grade of his career (72.5). He has one-year remaining on his contract and is due $11.75 million guaranteed in 2023. He’s an unrestricted free agent in 2024. To fit Smith under the cap, the Browns will probably have to restructure another contract, possibly Garrett, Amari Copper or Joel Bitonio.

This deal is similar to the Amari Cooper trade, attacking a position of need while helping another team achieve cap flexibility by dumping veteran talent. Browns GM Andrew Berry continues to find talent to improve the roster and he does it quietly. The Ninja GM strikes again.

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