Vikings trade edge rusher Za’Darius Smith to Browns
He posted a goodbye to the Vikings on social media earlier this offseason
It looks like edge rusher Za’Darius Smith is finally getting his wish.
After posting a goodbye to the Minnesota Vikings on social media earlier this offseason, Smith reportedly will play for the Cleveland Browns next season.
First reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Vikings agreed Friday night to trade Smith to the Browns in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2024 and a fifth-round pick in 2025. Additionally, the Vikings reportedly will give up a sixth-round pick and a seventh-round pick in 2025.
After putting up 10 sacks for the Vikings last season, Smith wanted a raise this offseason. He was set to make a $9.45 million base salary while carrying a $15.5 million cap hit this season.
His lack of production down the stretch last season might have played a role in the Vikings digging their heels in this offseason. Though the 30-year-old Smith impressively posted 9½ sacks from Week 1 to Week 10, he appeared to run out of gas, only amassing a half-sack from Week 11 to Week 18.
Asked about Smith earlier this offseason, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wouldn’t commit to him, instead replying, “We’re in ongoing communication with him and his representatives.”
The decision to move Smith seemed like a possibility at some point considering the Vikings signed edge rusher Marcus Davenport to a one-year, $13 million contract when free agency opened.
It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with their cap savings now that Smith is no longer on the books. They still presumably need to rework the contract of edge rusher Danielle Hunter as it seems highly unlikely that he plays at his base salary of $4.9 million after posting 10½ sacks last season.
It’s also only a matter of time before the Vikings have to dish out lucrative contract extensions to receiver Justin Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Ahead of rookie minicamp Friday afternoon, the Vikings signed cornerback Mekhi Blackmon, safety Jay Ward, defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy and quarterback Jaren Hall to their rookie contracts.
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