Browns keep Za'Darius Smith, Maurice Hurst during slow start to tampering period

Za'Darius Smith and Maurice Hurst run it back with the Browns

Cleveland Browns, Za'Darius Smith
Cleveland Browns, Za'Darius Smith / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

When the legal tampering period begins, the news can be hard to keep up with. NFL teams were making deals with several free agents, but to start, the Cleveland Browns were remaining quiet.

Targets such as Christian Wilkins were off the board in a hurry as he agreed to a massive $110 million deal with the Raiders. That's far too rich for Cleveland right now but they still made sure their defensive line would be solid with two great moves.

On Monday, it was announced the Browns agreed to extensions with Za'Darius Smith and Maurice Hurst, bringing back two key contributors from 2023.

As is often the case when a team doesn't jump right into the free agency market, the fan base begins to get antsy. They forget that oftentimes, the massive deals don't pan out — which was the case back when the Browns were trying to lure the biggest names early in free agency.

Browns landed two studs without going broke

Their patience has paid off in recent years and these two signings are another example of how Andrew Berry continues to push the right buttons. Smith, who proved to be an excellent starter across from Myles Garrett, signed for two years and $23.5 million. Hurst, who was able to rebound from missing all of 2022, signed for just $3.2 million on a one-year contract.

Cleveland isn't out of the running for more help on the defensive line but this guarantees that they'll feel good about their starting four — at a bare minimum.

Of course, not everyone can be retained. The Browns did end up losing one of their top special teams contributors on Monday with Mike Ford signing with the Houston Texans. In 16 games, Ford had 28 tackles and even picked off Lamar Jackson when pressed into action against the Ravens.

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