Za’Darius Smith: Why Trade is Important to Cleveland Browns

May 16, 2023

Andy Billman

Why This Trade Is Important!

So, what impact will his arrival have on the Cleveland Browns’ defense in 2023? It will bring about a multitude of positive changes and enhancements.

3 Reasons why OLB Za’Darius Smith coming to the Browns matters:

1 – Pressure the Quarterback
Smith was traded for one big reason: to help sack the quarterback on passing downs.  After Garrett’s 16 sacks in 2022, the next Browns player in total sacks is Jacob Phillips, with two. TWO?!?!! 

The Browns needed an upgrade with sack totals and mission accomplished. Smith, along with the signing of Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, helps the Browns elevate the sack totals as Smith had 10 sacks and Okoronkwo had 5 last season.  

2 – Forced fumbles
A stat that jumps off the page is the number of forced fumbles for Smith, he had three last season, and that was tied for 7th in the league.  

3 – Strong start to 2022
Smith had a strong start to the 2022 season, with Minnesota tallying 8.5 sacks in the first seven games for the Vikings.  A knee contusion did slow him down, but Smith mentioned to the press he has fully recovered, 

Overall
The Browns needed to improve the defensive line, especially in regards to pressure off the edge, as outside of Garrett last season, it did nothing noteworthy as a unit.  Smith is a huge upgrade, and now it is up to Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz, as he has the necessary talent to pressure the quarterback. 

The Cleveland Browns have made a significant move by trading for Za’Darius Smith, a highly accomplished player coming off a Pro Bowl season. Smith will join a revamped defensive line, starting alongside Myles Garrett. This dynamic pairing, along with the addition of Smith’s former teammate Dalvin Tomlinson, is expected to elevate the unit’s performance and provide valuable support for All-Pro player Garrett. Furthermore, the Browns acquired a promising rookie defensive tackle, Siaki Ika, who is anticipated to make an immediate impact.

The fanbase eagerly anticipates Ika’s inclusion in the starting lineup from day one. Prior to Smith’s arrival, the defensive line changes were merely lateral moves. While the new acquisitions may be an improvement or a step back, the only certainty is that they differ from the previous players on the team.

Smith is no ordinary player; he is a legitimate Pro Bowler. Although injuries and age can sometimes hinder performance, it is highly unlikely that Smith will fail to replicate his success from Minnesota in Cleveland. His skill, intelligence, and effective pass-rushing techniques should ensure he maintains his high level of play, at least for now.

If Smith performs at a similar caliber in 2023 as he did in 2022, the Browns’ front line will become an unstoppable force, unlike anything seen before, especially during Garrett’s tenure

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