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Around the AFC North: Za'Darius Smith Joins Myles Garrett in Cleveland

Browns LB Za'Darius Smith

Cleveland Browns: Za'Darius Smith Adds More Potency to Pass Rush

After his reported trade to the Browns, Pro Bowl pass rusher Za'Darius Smith is eager to form a dynamic pass rushing duo with Myles Garrett.

The Browns reportedly gave up fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025. Cleveland also acquired a sixth- and seventh-rounder in 2025. Smith will be on a one-year deal that guarantees him $11.75 million, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Smith has become one of the NFL's elite pass rushers after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens (2015-18) as a fourth-round pick who steadily improved. He posted 10 sacks with the Vikings last season, after he backed out a four-year deal to reunite with the Ravens.

Garrett and Smith are two of just five players who have posted at least 10 sacks in three of the last four seasons. Staying healthy has been the biggest obstacle for Smith, who had 9.5 sacks in his first 10 games with Minnesota last year, before a knee contusion slowed him to just 0.5 sacks the rest of the way. In 2021 with Green Bay, Smith also missed all but one game with a back injury that required surgery. 

Smith should benefit from playing next to an All-Pro defensive end like Garrett, who was often double-teamed while producing 16 sacks in each of the last two seasons. This is a pivotal season for the Browns, who have playoff aspirations. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Smith wanted to join Cleveland despite having other suitors.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Former Raven Nick Boyle 'Serious' About Quest to Become NFL Long Snapper

Former Raven Nick Boyle is trying to transition from NFL tight end to long snapper, and his next step led him to Pittsburgh. If he didn't think he could pull it off, Boyle wouldn't have participated in Steelers rookie camp over the weekend. 

"I still love Baltimore, have a lot of relationships there, but this is just unique and different and it's exciting," Boyle said via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But I'm serious. Let's go do it. It's not a joke. That's not what I want it to look like, because it's not. If this doesn't work out, I'll just keep snapping, and if someone else calls, I'll go there."

A devastating knee injury in 2020 changed the direction of Boyle's career and robbed him of the ability to play tight end as he once did. During his eight seasons with the Ravens, Boyle was one of the league's best blocking tight ends prior to his injury. 

After being released late last year, Boyle decided to make the position switch. He participated in this year's Maryland Pro Day as a long snapper and caught Pittsburgh's attention. Boyle still lives in Owings Mills, and neighbors can attest that he has spent many days honing his snapping skills. 

"I was snapping to a Fisher Price basketball hoop in my driveway," Boyle said. "My wife didn't want to catch the balls. I hit [the backboard] sometimes. Sometimes, it goes in the road."

Cincinnati Bengals: Rookie Cornerback DJ Turner Impresses Veterans

The Bengals will have a revamped secondary after the departures of starting safeties Jesse Bates and Vonn Bell in free agency. Dax Hill is expected to take over as one of the spots, and he is looking forward to playing with rookie cornerback DJ Turner, a former college teammate at Michigan. 

"We always look at each other and already know how we are going to play just based on how we are aligned," Hill said via Laura Pfahler of the Dayton Daily News. "We already have that chemistry built so I'm just looking forward to keep building on that. He's smart, fast, willing to do anything for the team, humble player, so definitely going to be a good fit for the secondary." 

Turner drew attention at the NFL Combine with the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.26), one of the fastest in Combine history. Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton believes that blazing speed will serve Turner well. 

"In this game, speed kills, man," Hilton said via Mohammad Ahmad of "You have a DC (defensive coordinator) like Lou (Anarumo) who can dial stuff up and put guys in position to make plays, it's big for us on defense."

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