Disappointing Update on Za'Darius Smith's Browns Future Emerges

The Cleveland Browns might lose the key defensive end in free agency.

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\ / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cleveland Browns are in a difficult situation heading into the offseason. They are limited in what they can do in free agency as they are $8 million over the salary cap while also not having a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. General manager Andrew Berry needs to be bold and creative to have enough maneuvering room to add some talent to the roster. Some difficult decisions await him this offseason.

One of them is the pending free agency of Za'Darius Smith. The former All-Pro pass rusher is about to hit the open market next month and according to Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot, he wants to "determine his price" in free agency.

Browns News: Za'Darius Smith to Test Free Agency

The Browns would certainly love to bring back the defensive end, who had another productive season. At age 31, Smith isn't the wrecking ball with double-digit sacks that he was earlier in his Packers days, but he was still healthy, available, and consistent all of last season.

Smith finished 2023 with the second-most sacks on the team after Myles Garrett, compiling 5.5 sacks and 27 tackles in 16 games. On PFF, he is listed as the eighth-best edge rusher hitting the market in March.

Considering how valuable of a position he plays, there will be plenty of suitors for the Pro Bowl edge rusher. Smith will presumably prioritize long-term guaranteed salary due to his age. This could potentially push him out of the Browns' price range.

There is reportedly mutual interest between Cleveland and Smith. However, Smith would likely require over $10 million per year salary, considering he made $11.7 million last season. Whether the already cash-strapped Browns should give him that contract is a reasonable question. We'll see what GM Berry and the front office think about his value.

Fortunately for the Browns, they still have Myles Garrett under contract to lead the defensive unit. In fact, Garrett has the second-best odds in the NFL (+700) to win the Defensive Player of the Year award next season. Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook, and take advantage of these odds and their sign-up offer of $150 in bonus bets.

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