Vikings trade Pro Bowl LB Za’Darius Smith to Browns after he requests release
After two months of limbo, Za'Darius Smith and the Minnesota Vikings have figured out a divorce.
The Pro Bowl linebacker was traded to the Cleveland Browns on Friday in exchange for a swap of draft picks, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The Vikings will reportedly receive a fifth-round pick in the 2024 and 2025 NFL Draft, while the Browns will receive a 2025 sixth- and seventh-rounder in addition to Smith.
Smith also reportedly agreed to a reworked contract that will pay him $11.75 million this season and make him a free agent next offseason. Smith was previously entering the second year of the three-year, $42 million contract he signed with the Vikings last offseason.
The deal resolves an awkward situation in which Smith reportedly requested the Vikings release him and even posted a goodbye to Vikings fans in March, but was told the team had no interest in letting him go.
I just want to say “Thank you!” to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization! 💜 pic.twitter.com/LAVAy5jptS
— Za'Darius Smith (@zadariussmith) March 9, 2023
Instead of a release, Smith now heads to Cleveland, where he figures to form one of the NFL's top pass-rush duos alongside All-Pro Myles Garrett. The 30-year-old Smith posted 44 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and five passes defended in his lone season in Minnesota.
The trade will also send Smith back to the AFC North, the division where he played the first four seasons of his career with the Baltimore Ravens, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.