Za’Darius Smith Wants to Be Released from the Vikings

Za'Darius Smith Wants to Be Released
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The veteran exodus out of Minnesota got started earlier this week when the Vikings released longtime LB Eric Kendricks, but it appears that things may just be getting started. A report on Thursday morning suggested that Adam Thielen may soon be released, and now, apparently pass rusher Za’Darius Smith wants to be released.

Questions Answered: New Starters, New Numbers, Will Patience Be a Virtue
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Last month, a report surfaced that Smith had placed his home in Eagan, Minnesota, on the market, so the two sides potentially parting ways been considered a possibility for some time. On Thursday, the possibility became very real when Smith posted a cryptic “thank you” message on Twitter out of nowhere, reflecting on his 2022 season with the Vikings.

Then, moments later, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network followed up, clarifying what the post actually meant:

During the 2022 offseason, Smith signed a 3-year/$42 million deal with the Vikings after missing the majority of the 2021 season for the Green Bay Packers. This contract with the Vikings came after he backed out of an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens.

In his first season with the Vikings, Smith played 16 games, recording 44 tackles, 15 TFLs, 10 sacks, 5 passes defensed, and a forced fumble. He also included 24 QB hits. Smith’s production got off to a roaring start over the first half of the season, recording 9.5 sacks in Minnesota’s first nine games.

Will the Real Z-Smith Please Stand Up?
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

However, a midseason knee injury seemed to hamper him a bit down the stretch of the campaign, and he recorded just half a sack over the final eight regular season games. In Minnesota’s playoff loss to the New York Giants, Smith recorded 3 tackles, included a tackle for loss.

Questions Answered: Za'Darius' Role
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) celebrate victory at the end of the second half of the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

As of now, according to Rapoport’s tweet, the Vikings do not plan on releasing Smith. If they did choose to cut the 30-year-old pass rusher, though, they would save $12.1 million against the salary cap. Currently, the Vikings are around $15 million over the cap, so this could solve much of their remaining financial troubles.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.