4 difficult decisions Cleveland Browns will need to make this offseason

  • Injury concerns
  • A quarterback controversy?
  • Up against the cap

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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4. Is Za'Darius Smith going to return?

Za'Darius Smith was an integral part of the Browns tough defense last season and paired well with Myles Garrett. While he didn't necessarily put up staggering numbers, it was his presence alongside Garrett which made the biggest difference. Teams now had to account for another top-end pass rusher in addition to Garrett.

At 31 years old, Smith put up 5.5 sacks, 29 quarterback pressures and nine quarterback hurries. Again, it wasn't his best year by any means. But, he was serviceable, and his presence meant more than the numbers showed.

The Browns are over the cap, as it stands, which is going to make re-signing the free agent edge rusher a bit difficult.. Smith made $11.7 million in 2023, and based on performance alone, the Browns could try and bring him back for less than that. This might also be a situation where Smith takes a lower salary to try and run it back with a defense that saw so much success.

Again, with limited draft capital and tight finances, the Browns would sure love to have a discount on a player like Smith.