Vikings To Meet With Za’Darius Smith

Za’Darius Smith backed out of an agreement to return to the Ravens, and interest is picking up. The Vikings are set to meet with the recent Packers cap casualty Monday, Tom Pelissero of tweets.

Minnesota shopped Danielle Hunter but ultimately paid its longtime edge anchor an $18MM roster bonus Sunday. The team still could use an additional proven rusher. Smith would certainly qualify.

A Hunter-Smith pairing would be interesting, given each’s recent injury struggles. Smith missed 16 of the Packers’ 18 games last season because of a back injury he aggravated in Week 1. Smith underwent surgery last fall and did not return until Green Bay’s playoff game. Hunter is coming off two injury-marred years, with a pectoral tear shelving him midway through last season.

Injuries aside, the 2015 draftees are accomplished pass rushers. Each has two Pro Bowl nods, with Smith’s two coming from 2019-20, when he combined for 26 sacks to start off his Packers contract. The Vikings do have third-year edge rusher D.J. Wonnum, who led the team with eight sacks last season, but Everson Griffen is a free agent after another season that featured off-field issues lead to an in-season exit. Minnesota is also moving to a 3-4 defense for the first time in decades; Smith has played in 3-4 schemes throughout his career.

The Cowboys are also believed to be interested in Smith, discussing a deal with him before news of the Ravens pact surfaced and continuing to make a push for him after the accord dissolved. The Ravens believed they had Smith en route on a four-year, $35MM deal. But Smith changed course. The 29-year-old defender could be headed back to the NFC soon.

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