Za’Darius Smith is ready to get to work with the Cleveland Browns.
Smith was traded to the Browns on May 12, with Cleveland sending a pair of fifth-round picks to the Minnesota Vikings to land the three-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher. Along with Smith, the Browns also got sixth and seventh-round picks in return.
Smith chose Cleveland over two other suitors, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, with the partnership with All-Pro Myles Garrett serving as the catalyst.
“Cleveland combed pass-rush market, including free agency. Found Z Smith strong fit,” Fowler tweeted. “Smith had two other suitors but found chance to play opposite Myles Garrett appealing.”
Following the move, Smith is already putting in work. He reposted a video of his training to Instagram and also some tagged posts about the trade going down. One was from his new teammate, Browns safety Juan Thornhill.
“Oh yeah it’s up!” Thornhill tweeted, tagging Smith.
He responded: “Let’s go!”
Browns Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz ‘Overjoyed’ by Zadarius Smith Trade
The trade gives the Browns two Pro Bowl pass-rushing options in Smith and Garrett, with Ogbonnia Okoronkwo also set to play a key role in the rotation. Getting after the quarterback is the key component of any defense but is especially important to new Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is building an attacking scheme in Cleveland.
“I hear Schwartz is overjoyed with the deal. The Browns keep adding defensive linemen,” Terry Pluto of cleveland.com reported. “Here’s the best part for the Browns: They gave up so little for Smith. It’s the perfect low-risk, high-reward deal – much like the [Amari] Cooper trade was a year ago.”
With a significant threat on the other side, Garrett should find more room to work. He’s coming off back-to-back 16-sack seasons but Schwartz has been open that he envisions even more production from Garrett.
“It is my job to give him some answers and to be able to put some pieces scheme-wise and personnel-wise around him to allow him to be free and more productive,” Schwartz said during his introductory press conference. “When I say more productive, what?  sacks? That answers your question; the bar is set really high for a good reason.”
Browns Rookies React to Za’Darius Smith Trade
Smith, Garrett and Okoronkwo will be atop the depth chart but the Browns also drafted Isaiah McGuire in the fourth round. The trade went down after the first day of Browns’ rookie minicamp wrapped up and McGuire was happy to hear about it.
“I’ll get to learn from a great vet such as Za’Darius and the other guys in the room. It’s an honor and a blessing. I’m excited to learn and pick their brains,” McGuire said. “I was in my hotel room watching film and going over the playbook [when it was announced]. I saw it and sent it to my family. We talked about what a great opportunity it is for me, as a young player, to add that presence to the room. Overall, it continues to improve our pass rush.”
The Browns also have Alex Wright — who saw a chunk of time on the field last season — Isaiah Thomas and Sam Kamara competing for spots on the depth chart.