A Viking has been traded, but it’s not Dalvin Cook

Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings traded one of their key players…on defense to the Cleveland Browns on Friday.

The Minnesota Vikings are in the midst of a retooling of their roster following their Wild Card Round loss to the New York Giants. The team already moved on from wide receiver Adam Thielen and linebacker Eric Kendricks, but there was the potential of another big move looming. Running back Dalvin Cook’s status with the team is uncertain, as there have been countless trade rumors this offseason, and the potential that they could flat out release him from his contract.

On Friday, the Vikings made a trade, but it didn’t involve cook. Rather, it surrounded a big piece of their defense.

According to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, the Vikings traded edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, a 2025 sixth-rounder and a 2025 seventh-rounder to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2024 and 2025. Furthermore, Smith has a reworked deal with the Browns that guarantees him $11.75 million for the 2023 season, and allows him to hit free agency at the start of the 2024 league year

Vikings trade Za’Darius Smith to Browns

At the conclusion of the 2022 season, Smith had requested his release from his contract with the Vikings, who were unwilling to do so at the time, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Smith further eluded his desire to move on by saying farewell to the Vikings organization, his teammates and the fanbase. This came one year into his three-year, $42 million contract signed just last offseason.

In his lone season with the Vikings, Smith recorded 44 combined tackles (32 solo, 12 assisted), 24 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and five defended passes.

Now, Smith will head to Cleveland, where he will reunite with former teammate and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who signed a four-year, $57 million contract with the Browns as a free agent. Not to mention that he’ll likely be on the end of the defensive line opposite of Myles Garrett. Cleveland will look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

As for the Vikings, we await to see if there will be another significant move made ahead of the 2023 season.

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