4 Potential Trade Partners for Vikings EDGE Za’Darius Smith

4 Potential Trade Partners for Vikings EDGE Za'Darius Smith
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With Friday now behind us, the likelihood that Vikings EDGE Za’Darius Smith will get his wish of being released from the Minnesota Vikings seems unlikely as $5 million of his money became guaranteed at the end of the day. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be a Viking during the 2023 season. Smith could be a hot commodity if Minnesota made him available via trade, so here are four potential trade partners for the pass rusher.

Baltimore Ravens

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Oct 23, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen (6) high fives linebacker Justin Houston (50) after making a sack against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

If Smith were going to be open to a trade anywhere, it might be the team that he came extremely close to signing with before backing out and joining the Vikings. That team is, of course, the Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore recently parted ways with veteran Calais Campbell, and with Justin Houston also on the free agency market, they could look to add a new (younger) veteran player to join a young core of Patrick Queen and Odafe Oweh.

As for a potential return package, Baltimore does not hold a second-round pick right now, but they do have each of their own 2024 draft picks as well as picks in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds this spring. The Vikings probably wouldn’t get much more than a third-rounder anyway, so a deal could very easily be worked out here.

Detroit Lions

Vikings-Lions Preview
Dec 4, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) celebrates a sack with linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez (44) against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe this seems crazy, but is it really any crazier than the Lions trading tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings last fall? In fact, over the past 12 months, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made a pair of trades if you include their draft night trade last spring as well, so don’t count this move out.

The Lions have $18 million in cap space right now, so they can easily swing for a move to acquire the veteran pass rusher. It would be a seamless fit to put Smith opposite of Aidan Hutchinson on Detroit’s defense, and the Lions hold 18 draft picks over the next two years. Minnesota is looking to get younger defensively, and Detroit’s free agency shows that they are looking to bring in more vets. A Za’Darius Smith tradeto acquire picks fits both teams’ current plans.

New Orleans Saints

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is pressured by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The assumption by some right now is that free agent signing Marcus Davenport could be a “one-for-one” replacement at EDGE for Za’Darius Smith. It makes sense considering Minnesota gave Davenport $13 million and can save $12 million by trading Smith. Well, maybe the New Orleans Saints could be having the same thought process.

No matter what anybody may think about New Orleans’ process over the past few years following Drew Brees’ retirement, it seems clear that this franchise remains intent on trying to contend in the NFC. They’ve signed QB Derek Carr and brought in RB Jamaal Williams to help bolster the offense. Pairing Smith with Cam Jordan would create a savvy veteran duo at edge in the Big Easy.

In terms of a return for the Vikings, the Saints have each of their own Day Two picks this spring, and three picks that land in the fourth or fifth rounds of the 2023 Draft. This gives some flexibility in a potential deal.

Arizona Cardinals

Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph (1) misses a game-winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals as time expires during the fourth quarter in Glendale, Ariz. Sept. 19, 2021. The Arizona Cardinals won 34-33. Cardinals Vs Vikings

In terms of a potential return for the Vikings, the Cardinals might make the most sense here. They already have a pair of third-round picks because of the compensatory pick awarded to them, and they are looking to move wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as well, which will only bring more draft capital.

Arizona is going to have to replace the production of the recently retired J.J. Watt on their defense which already had a number of struggles in 2022. Of course, they’ll likely use the third overall pick on Will Anderson out of Alabama if they don’t trade that pick, but giving Anderson a veteran to take some pressure off the rookie as he works through some inevitable kinks could help unlock his potential even faster.

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.