Browns DE Ogbo Okoronkwo Sends 2-Word Message on Za’Darius Smith Trade

Za'Darius Smith

Getty New Browns pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith.

The Cleveland Browns traded for Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith on Friday, which puts new defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo in an interesting spot.

Okoronkwo was one of the more hyped free agent signings for the Browns. He inked a three-year deal worth $19 million with Cleveland this offseason, with the assumption that he would be the starter opposite of Myles Garrett.

Now with Smith in the mix, he’ll likely become a rotational piece — although having a wealth of options on the edge is a good problem to have for the Browns.

But it seems like Okoronkwo is all good with the additional company in the defensive line room, welcoming Smith with a two-word tweet.

“Let’s eat,” Okoronkwo tweeted shortly after the news broke.

Browns Deal for Za’Darius Smith Was No-Brainer

The Browns like Okoronkwo as a player but are entering a make-or-break season and needed more experienced help on the edge. Smith gives them a reliable threat, capable of posting double-digit sacks. He’s fresh off a Pro Bowl campaign with the Minnesota Vikings, posting 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Smith missed all but one game in 2021 but posted 26 sacks in his previous two seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

The deal was a no-brainer for Cleveland, giving up just a pair of fifth-round picks to get the deal done, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Cleveland also got 2025 sixth and seventh-round picks in the package with Smith.

The Browns will likely run out three new starters next year on the defensive line. They also signed Dalvin Tomlinson to anchor one of the defensive tackle spots. Tomlinson played alongside Smith last year on the Vikings. The veteran big man will be a big part of solving the Browns problems defending the run.

“As a defensive lineman, I feel like going into each season there is always a lot of pressure to stop the run because if you can’t stop the run, you will never get to pass rush,” Tomlinson said during his introductory press conference in March. “Just want to come in and help everybody across the whole front so we can be one unit up front to stop the run as much as possible.”

Ogbo Okoronkwo Lacks Starting Experience

The move will give Okoronkwo some additional time to learn from a pair of Pro Bowlers. He has some significant upside but has started just eight games in his career with the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans.

Okoronkwo expressed during his introductory press conference that he was excited to work alongside Garrett, who is coming off back-to-back 16-sack seasons.

“Playing on the other side of Myles Garrett, I think it speaks for itself,” Okoronkwo said. “He has been one of the best pass rushers in the league year in and year out. Being able to play alongside him will open up a lot of things for me so I am excited about that, as well.”

The spot opposite of Garrett is important for the Browns’ defense as a whole. He was one of the most double-teamed pass-rushers in the NFL last season, although that should change if Smith and Okoronkwo can provide a credible threat on the other side.

Read More