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Za’Darius Smith reportedly asks Vikings to release him

A bit of an unexpected development

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Our friends at the Climbing the Pocket Network beat us to this one by a little bit, but this is a story that’s still worth posting about on its own because of its potential impact on the Minnesota Vikings.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith has asked the Vikings to release him. This was spurred by a tweet from Smith himself thanking Vikings fans and the organization for the “amazing season and experience” he had in 2022.

Also, according to Rapoport, the Vikings have no plans to release Smith as things stand right now. So that should be an interesting situation to keep an eye on over the next few days.

Smith came to the Vikings last offseason as a free agent after spurning his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, who he had agreed to terms with before changing his mind and coming to Minnesota. He signed a three-year, $42 million deal, but the contract was structured in such a way that it was, essentially, a one-year deal that the Vikings could get out of with a minimum impact on their salary cap. If the team does release Smith, they will save somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$13 million of cap space, depending on whether or not he would be deemed a “June 1” cut.

Smith got off to an outstanding start to his 2022 season, making plays all over the field and garnering NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for the month of October. In the second half of the year, however, his performance seemed to drop dramatically. That could have been because of a knee issue he was dealing with throughout the season, but whatever the reason he was much less visible in the second half of the year.

The Vikings have until 3:00 PM Central time this coming Wednesday, 15 April, to get under the salary cap before the start of the new league year. We’ll see whether or not the release of Za’Darius Smith is one of the moves they make to get under.

What say you, ladies and gentlemen?