In the first few months after the conclusion of the 2022 season, the Minnesota Vikings parted ways with a number of notable veteran players, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Most of the guys the Vikings moved on from were either becoming too expensive, their performance was declining, or they were already scheduled to enter free agency in 2023.
Some of the former Minnesota players who found new homes this past offseason have performed well for their new teams this year. However, a number of other former Vikings have not lived up to the expectations they were given when they joined a new organization this past offseason.
Of the players who left Minnesota during the 2023 offseason, who are some that have seen their performance go in the wrong direction during the last few months?
Za'Darius Smith - DE (Cleveland Browns)
Za'Darius Smith was arguably the best pass rusher for the Vikings during the 2022 season. Smith finished his lone year in Minnesota with 78 pressures (most on the team) and 10 sacks (second-most).
Following the 2022 campaign, Smith made it clear that he wanted to move on from the Vikings. So Minnesota eventually traded him and a pair of 2025 Day 3 draft picks to the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round draft selection in both 2024 and 2025.
With the Browns this season, Smith has been on the field for 14 games. But his performance hasn't been anywhere close to where it was when he was with the Vikings in 2022.
During his 14 appearances for Cleveland this year, he's generated 49 pressures (almost two fewer per game than in 2022), and he's only been able to accumulate a total of four sacks.
Has Smith been terrible for the Browns this season? No, but he's not the player he was when he took the field in a Minnesota uniform last year, and that's likely what Cleveland was expecting to get when they traded for him.