Once Promising Former Vikings WR Has a New Contract with the Panthers

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (15) celebrates his touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Minnesota Vikings selected Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, many had hopes for the Vikings WR eventually becoming a major piece of the offense one day.

However, no such event would take place. After hauling in 5 receptions for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns during his rookie season, Smith-Marsette was part of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s purge of that 2021 Draft class the following offseason.

Since then, Smith-Marsette has bounced around the NFL, but he officially has a new contract for the 2024 season, agreeing to a new deal with the Carolina Panthers.

Once Promising Former Vikings WR Re-Signs with Carolina

Former Vikings WR
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (15) gains yardage against the Las Vegas Raiders during a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The contract was reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who tweeted, “The #Panthers agreed to terms with WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette on a 1-year deal.”

Since his time with the Vikings came to an end, Smith-Marsette has spent time with the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Panthers. After the Vikings cut him prior to the 2022 season, the receiver was claimed by Chicago. However, he had a very limited impact in Chicago, other than fumbling his only reception down the stretch of Chicago’s Week 5 game against the Vikings, allowing Minnesota to seal their victory.

The Bears then cut Smith-Marsette following Week 6, and he caught on with the Chiefs for the remainder of the season. Of course, Kansas City went on to win a Super Bowl that season, meaning the former Vikings draft pick got a ring despite only appearing in two games for the champs.

Aug 19, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Kyler McMichael (48) attempts to tackle Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (82) during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Smith-Marsette re-upped with Kansas City immediately after that Super Bowl, but prior to the 2023 regular season, the Chiefs traded him to the Carolina Panthers where he has remained ever since. Carolina went 2-15 this season; it was a far cry from the Super Bowl that Smith-Marsette got to experience in 2022.

It ended up being a positive move for the receiver, though. Smith-Marsette got a chance to appear in all 17 games during 2023, and he carved out a new role for himself with the Panthers where he found great success: punt returner.

While he only caught eight passes for 51 yards this season, Smith-Marsette was one of the most reliable punt returners in the NFL. He equaled the Vikings’ Brandon Powell atop the NFL’s leaderboard with 37 returns which resulted in 322 yards and a 79-yard punt return touchdown. PFF graded him as the third-best punt returner with a minimum of 10 returns this past season.

Where Departed 2021 Vikings Went
Aug 21, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith-Marsette is now set to remain in Carolina alongside another former Vikings receiver, Adam Thielen. Last year with the Panthers, Thielen was the WR1 after signing a three-year deal worth $25 million last season and caught 103 passes for 1014 yards and four touchdowns.

Unless Thielen becomes a cap casualty later this offseason, the duo of former Vikings receivers will get a chance to run things back in Carolina this year.

Smith-Marsette will turn 25 years old on August 29th.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference.

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Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.