12 Browns Players Who Won't Return Next Season

Breaking down the most likely Cleveland Browns players who won't return for the 2024 season.

Dec 17, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (15) throws the ball
Dec 17, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco (15) throws the ball / Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Za'Darius Smith

Za'Dairus Smith is Cleveland's biggest name set to hit free agency this offseason. While the Dawg Pound isn't itching to see him go, it'd be no surprise if the Browns are ultimately priced out of his market.

Smith came to Cleveland fresh off of a bounce-back 2022 campaign where he racked up 10.0 sacks and 5 tackles for loss, netting him the third Pro Bowl selection of his career. The Browns acquired him following Jadeveon Clowney's exit, giving Myles Garrett another high-profile running mate.

Unfortunately, Smith didn't produce as expected. He got off to an incredibly quiet start, posting just 2.5 sacks over the first 10 weeks. He ended the year at only 5.5, while recording 8 TFL (down from 15 in 2022) and two fewer pass breakups than the previous campaign.

A down season isn't going to push away potential suitors, though. Smith has pedigree as a three-time Pro Bowler and former Second Team All-Pro selection. He's also managed to be productive while suiting up for four different franchises since 2018.

Yet, if teams want to overpay for Smith, the Browns should let them. His possible decline in 2023 is noteworthy, especially since he's now 31 years old. Multiple players enjoyed career bests under Jim Schwartz this past season, yet Smith clearly didn't enjoy the same effects, which is a concern.

Cleveland needs to spend its little cap space wisely this offseason, and shelling out for a star who might be losing a step certainly doesn't fit that agenda. Berry may very well be able to find a more moderately priced option this spring who can rival what Smith contributed in 2023.