BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns bolstered their defense Friday, agreeing to a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for three-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith, a source confirmed to ESPN.
Minnesota will receive a pair of fifth-round picks (2024 and 2025) in the deal, the source said. In addition to Smith, Cleveland gets back a 2025 sixth-round pick and a 2025 seventh-rounder.
Smith, 30, will team up with All-Pro Myles Garrett to give Cleveland one of the most accomplished pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Smith is one of five players to have 10-plus sacks in three of the past four seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research; Garrett is one of the others.
Smith had 10 sacks with the Vikings in 2022. In 2019 and 2020, Smith combined for 26 sacks in consecutive Pro Bowl seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He still has more than $11 in guaranteed salary left on his deal.
On March 9, Smith tweeted what appeared to be a goodbye message to the Vikings, thanking the organization for “an amazing season and experience.” But sources said at the time that Smith was under contract and the team had no plans to release him, suggesting the possibility of trade discussions.
The likelihood of a trade intensified when the Vikings reached a deal with pass-rusher Marcus Davenport on the first day of the NFL’s free agent negotiating period.
Smith signed a three-year, $42 million free agent contract with the Vikings last spring amid reports that he had first agreed to terms with the Baltimore Ravens following his release from the Packers. The Vikings wanted him as an outside linebacker to pair with veteran Danielle Hunter in the 3-4 scheme favored by new coach Kevin O’Connell.
Smith enjoyed a strong start to the season, producing 8.5 sacks in the first seven weeks, but a chronic knee injury slowed him down and he managed only 1.5 sacks for the remainder of the regular season.
The Browns have already made several additions to their defense this offseason. Earlier in free agency, they signed veteran defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, safety Juan Thornhill and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who will round out Cleveland’s rotation at defensive end alongside Garrett and Smith.
NFL Network first reported the trade agreement.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.