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Za’Darius Smith: We’ve got something we need to finish here

After helping the Browns become one of the league’s top defenses in 2023, edge rusher Za’Darius Smith elected to re-sign with the club on a two-year deal in March.

Smith, 31, told reporters on Wednesday that he had other options, but wanted to remain in Cleveland because of “the chemistry with this team.”

“The brotherhood, man, the team camaraderie,” Smith said, via transcript from the team. “I had a chance to go other places, but I felt like I didn’t want that, man. I felt like we didn’t get to where we wanted to last year, man. And we got something that we need to finish here.

“Hopefully, we can get that done this year.”

The Browns were Smith’s third team in three years after he was let go by Green Bay in March 2022 and Minnesota traded him in May 2023. Smith was asked if it felt nice to be wanted after his experiences of the last two offseasons.

“I mean, for one, I’m not a sorry football player,” Smith said. “And for two, you know, I’ve been a lot of places, man, and made a name for myself. Being wanted, I’m not gonna say that is a thing, but for me to come back, you know, like I said, I had other options to go Miami, Washington.

“I could have went anywhere, but I wanted to come back here because I see something in this team that a lot of people just don’t see, man, for being in the locker room, and I was talking about the team camaraderie, man. If we keep that close and keep the togetherness, man, we can go far this year, hopefully.”

In 16 games last season, Smith recorded 5.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, and 20 quarterback hits. He also had three passes defensed and a forced fumble in 2023.