- By Hayden Remillard
- Twitter: @haydentalks
Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith has reportedly asked to be released.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report the news, adding that the team has no desire to cut the eight-year veteran.
Smith wrote a message to Skol Nation and Vikings Organization on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
Last offseason, Smith signed a three-year $42 million contract with the Vikings. He had spent the previous three seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
The 30-year-old played in 16 games during the 2022 season. He finished with 44 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 24 quarterback hits, 10 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Smith’s play earned him a Pro Bowl spot, the third of his career (2019, 2020, and 2022).
8.5 of his sacks came in the first seven games of the season, including three in a single game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite playing 70% of the Vikings’ defensive snaps, Smith dealt with a knee injury throughout the regular season.
At the moment, Minnesota is nearly $15,000,000 over the salary cap, so several cuts are expected in the coming week.
Under his current contract, Smith carries a cap hit of $15,490,186 for the 2023 season. That makes him the NFL’s 15th highest-paid linebacker.
If the Vikings were to move on, it would open $12,156,852 in salary cap space. Smith would then become a free agent.
D.J. Wonnum is currently listed behind Smith on the team’s depth chart.
Wonnum has played three seasons in Minnesota. He has 15 sacks over 47 career games played.
While the situation between Smith and the Vikings remains unresolved, there are notable outside linebackers currently on the market, including Bud Dupree, Melvin Ingram, and Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo.
The NFL’s free agency period officially begins Wednesday, March 15th.