They had lots of hope in terms of making the playoffs, especially after they made several additions on defense, and somehow, going into Week 4, those hopes are still alive.
They routed the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, 27-3, behind a tremendous defensive performance, and they currently rank first in both points and total yards allowed. Yet, one analyst feels Cleveland needs to make a move on the defensive side of the football to truly solidify its chances of getting to the postseason.
Defensive end Za’Darius Smith was brought in this offseason in order to give Myles Garrett some help on the opposite side of the defensive line. However, so far this season, he has been a disappointment, especially relative to his past production. Last season, he had 10.0 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and 15 tackles for loss.
Here is the argument Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey made in favor of trading Smith.
“Za’Darius Smith is probably the most intriguing trade candidate on the Browns roster.
“The 31-year-old edge-rusher had three double-digit sack totals in his last four seasons before joining the Browns in the offseason.
“Smith’s production has yet to show up on the stat sheet in 2023, but he still affects every play with the pressure he gets on offensive linemen.
“Smith’s explosiveness off the edge could be valuable to a handful of contenders on a rental basis if Cleveland struggles in the next month.”
Smith has been named to the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons and put up double-digit sacks in all three of those campaigns. He’s nearing the end of his contract, so the value he would fetch on the open market would likely be modest, but the Browns could possibly get a draft pick that could turn into a useful player later on.
The team has a new defensive coordinator in Jim Schwartz, and with a very good quarterback in Deshaun Watson and a legitimate weapon in wide receiver Amari Cooper, perhaps its season isn’t as doomed as one may think.
Perhaps the Browns will not make the playoffs this season, but maybe they could act as a spoiler and build a winning culture that will pay off down the road.