Za'Darius Smith Reveals the Teams He Almost Signed With Over Browns

After re-signing with the Cleveland Browns earlier in the offseason, Za'Darius Smith has revealed two teams that he nearly joined instead.
Za'Darius Smith has revealed two teams he nearly joined this offseason.
Za'Darius Smith has revealed two teams he nearly joined this offseason. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns entered the NFL offseason with a lengthy to-do list and one of the biggest tasks was re-signing Za'Darius Smith. Fortunately, it didn't take general manager Andrew Berry long to secure one of the Browns' best defenders, inking Smith to a two-year, $23.5 million contract before free agency officially opened in March.

While re-signing Smith was a must when it comes to Cleveland challenging for a Super Bowl next season, that doesn't mean he was guaranteed to remain in town. On Wednesday, the three-time Pro Bowl defender revealed that he nearly left the Browns for two teams this offseason.

Browns News: Za'Darius Smith Nearly Signed with Dolphins, Commanders

Donning a fresh haircut at Wednesday's organized team activities (OTAs), Smith told The Athletic's Zac Jackson that he had received contract offers from the Miami Dolphins and Washington Commanders. While those offers may have been enticing to some, the 31-year-old opted to stay in Cleveland because he "wanted to be here."

It isn't surprising to learn that the Dolphins and Commanders were interested in the veteran pass rusher's services. Miami and Washington had two of the worst scoring defenses last season, ranking 22nd and 32, respectively. Meanwhile, Smith was one of the top-rated free-agent defenders due to his game-changing ability.

Fortunately, Smith rejected the lesser options to remain in Cleveland, where he's become quite the fan favorite. The former 2015 fourth-rounder looked great alongside Myles Garrett in his debut campaign, tallying 18 solo tackles, 5.5 sacks, three defended passes, and a forced fumble.

Not only was Smith Pro Football Focus' No. 16-graded edge defender for his work, but his 86.8 pass rush grade ranked ninth-best among 112 eligible players at his position.

The Montgomery, AL native told reporters that, at the end of the day, things like the "brotherhood" and "camaraderie" that he feels with his Browns teammates swayed him to stay. The fact that Cleveland has some unfinished business also played a role in his return.

"I had chances to go other places, but I felt like I didn't want that. I felt like we didn't get to where we wanted to last year and we got something that we want to finish. "

Za'Darius Smith

Despite having PPF's No. 1 pass rush last season, the Browns were bounced from the Wild Card Round with a 45-14 blowout loss to the Houston Texans. In other words, it's easy to see why Smith sees there being unfinished business.

The Browns need Smith and the rest of the defense to be in top form if they're going to prove their haters wrong next season. Unfortunately, the doubters are already in full force as FanDuel Sportsbook is favoring them to miss the postseason (-162) with only +4000 odds to win Super Bowl LIX (T-15th).

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