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Vikings Trade Za'Darius Smith to Cleveland Browns


EAGAN, Minn. — Za'Darius Smith is heading to Cleveland.

The Vikings on Tuesday announced they have traded the three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher, along with 2025 sixth- and seventh-round picks to the Browns in exchange for fifth-round selections in 2024 and 2025.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the details Friday on Twitter, but the deal was not finalized until Smith passed a physical examination.

Smith signed with Minnesota in 2022 and started all 16 regular-season games he played for the Vikings, as well as the Wild Card playoff game against the New York Giants.

He led the Vikings with 24 quarterback hits and finished second on the team with 10 sacks, but 16 of those hits and 9.5 of his sacks occurred in Minnesota's first nine games of the season.

Smith was able to reconnect with Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine and Outside Linebackers Coach/Pass Rush Specialist Mike Smith, who had coached him in Green Bay.

The edge rusher turned in an incredible string of games last October when he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month, recording 6.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and eight QB hits in helping Minnesota defeat New Orleans, Chicago, Miami and Arizona.


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He also claimed NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his showing against the Cardinals (seven tackles, 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and a pass defensed).

But Smith dealt with a knee contusion during the second half of the season.

The Vikings "Edge Department" has Danielle Hunter, Pat Jones II, D.J. Wonnum and Luiji Vilain set to return from playing for Minnesota in 2022. Kenny Willekes is also back in the mix after spending all of last season on Injured Reserve. Benton Whitley was also with the group last season but has not appeared in an NFL game.

The Vikings also signed Marcus Davenport and Curtis Weaver during free agency and signed undrafted rookie free agent Andre Carter II. Junior Aho recently joined the Vikings through the International Player Pathway Program.

Hunter (73 starts in 102 games played) and Davenport (32 starts in 63 games with the Saints) have the most experience among Minnesota's outside linebackers.

The team also announced the signing of two Minnesota natives: fullback Zach Ojile and offensive lineman Sam Schlueter.