Three-time Pro-Bowler Za’Darius Smith said goodbye to Vikings fans after one outstanding season in Minnesota. His goodbye tweet seemed routine: another player falling victim to the salary cap and hitting the open market.
There is one huge problem. According to reports, Minnesota has no plans on cutting Smith. Which makes for, at the very least, an awkward standoff.
Za’Darius Smith still has 2 years remaining on his contract
The Pro-Bowl pass-rusher still has two years remaining on his contract with the Vikes. His cap-hit is set to be $15.5 million in 2023. With just $3.3 million in dead money, Minnesota would save $12.2 million in cap space that would likely be pivotal ahead of the impending free agency period and Draft.
Is Smith’s goodbye message a way to force the Vikings’ hand? For now, that seems to be the case.
After his ‘prove-it’ deal, Smith could seek a better contract
Despite 30-year old Za’Darius Smith being an established NFL commodity, his three-year deal with Minnesota in 2022 was still somewhat of a prove-it deal. The pass-rusher missed most of the 2021 season with the Packers due to a back injury before becoming a free agent.
Now Smith has proven himself once again, helping the Vikings win the NFC North. And given he is in the later stage of his NFL career, his goodbye message could be a way to force the Vikings into reworking his contract.
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