Vikings agree to 3-year, $42M deal with OLB Za’Darius Smith

Published 7:37 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings and free agent outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith agreed to terms on a three-year, $42 million contract on Tuesday, giving the team a pass-rushing boost from a player recently let go by their biggest rival.

Smith, who spent the last three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, has incentives to earn up to $47 million over the life of the deal. The 29-year-old Smith was a Pro Bowl pick in 2019 and 2020 with a combined 26 sacks in 32 games, but he had a major back injury last season and appeared in only one game for the NFC North champions.

The Packers released Smith last week. He reached an agreement to return to his original team, the Baltimore Ravens, according to multiple reports, but that contract fell through.

With defensive end Danielle Hunter returning after a torn pectoral muscle limited him to seven games in 2021, the Vikings have a pair of proven pass-rushers to lean on in the attempt to prop up a defense that has lagged badly over the last two years. Assistant head coach Mike Pettine was Smith’s defensive coordinator with the Packers in 2019 and 2020.