A week and a half ago, Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith tweeted, “I just want to say ‘Thank you!’ to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization! 💜.”
That sure sounds like a goodbye — and a goodbye for good.
5 Possible Trade Destinations for Za’Darius Smith
Fast forward eight days, and $5.05 million of Smith’s 2023 salary guaranteed on the Vikings financial ledger, meaning a release of the 30-year-old is unlikely. And if he “doesn’t want to be here,” a trade may be on the way.
In alphabetical order, these are five possible trade destinations.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Who They Have at EDGE: Myjai Sanders & Cameron Thomas
Why They’d Want Smith: Sanders and Thomas are 3rd-Rounders from the 2022 NFL Draft. They could turn into the next big things; they could turn out to be terrible. Arizona’s pass rush in 2022 wasn’t very spooky, and first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon shouldn’t settle for underwhelming defensive trenches during his maiden voyage.
After Round 2 of April’s draft, the Cardinals have six picks from Rounds 3-7. Send one to the Vikings for a guaranteed-to-be-good defender in Smith.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Who They Have at EDGE: Lorenzo Carter & Kaden Elliss
Why They’d Want Smith: Elliss is new via free agency and nothing to scoff at, and Carter is a decent pass rusher. Yet, for more experience, Smith is gettable from the Vikings, and Atlanta could stand to improve a meh 2022 pass rush.
The Falcons are also rumored as participants in the Dalvin Cook trade sweepstakes, so perhaps Vikings bossman Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can send Cook + Smith to Atlanta for a couple of mid-to-low round draft picks.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Who They Have at EDGE: Odafe Oweh & David Ojabo
Why They’d Want Smith: Smith almost joined the Ravens right around this time last year but backed out at the last minute to run with Kevin O’Connell and friends. Maybe he can go full circle in 2023 and rejoin the team that drafted him in 2015.
Baltimore has a 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th-Rounder on deck for the NFL draft. One could be spent on Smith, who the Ravens know well.
4. San Francisco 49ers
Who They Have at EDGE: Nick Bosa & Clelin Ferrell
Why They’d Want Smith: Listen, the 49ers have more draft picks than God, thanks to incredibly wizard-like compensatory-draft-pick strategizing. It’s unbelievable. About 10 days ago, the NFL awarded San Francisco seven compensatory picks.
Then, the 49ers are one man away — hint: Za’Darius Smith — from owning the best defensive front in NFL history:
- DE = Za’Darius Goes Here
- DT = Javon Hargrave
- DT = Arik Armstead
- DE = Nick Bosa
- LB = Fred Warner
- LB = Dre Greenlaw
The guy currently manning Smith’s spot is former-1st-Rounder Clelin Ferrell, if you care.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Who They Have at EDGE: Dre’Mont Jones & Uchenna Nwosu
Why They’d Want Smith: Smith could play the “Bruce Irvin role” in Seattle. Irvin is a free agent. The Seahawks pass rush was unimpressive in 2022, and for a team that seemed ready to rebuild — but then didn’t because Geno Smith was awesome — shoring up the defense checks out.
Seattle owns a 3rd-Rounder in April’s draft, a 4th, two 5ths, and a 6th. The Vikings would likely accept something from that stash for Smith.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.
2023-03-19 11:47:11 ,
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