The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers have a pretty healthy rivalry. While the Vikings haven’t won as much as they would like in recent years, they are hoping that changes this season with some of the upgrades that they have made to the roster.
One of those upgrades came on the defensive side of the ball as they signed EDGE defender Za’Darius Smith. Smith agreed to a four-year, $35 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens, the team that drafted him in fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. But, after seeing what other players were signing for, such as Chandler Jones, who inked a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, Smith backed out of the deal and re-enter free agency.
That was a huge break for the Vikings, who then inked Smith to a three-year deal worth $42 million that can be worth as much as $47 million. Now Smith will get to face off with a Packers team he spent the last three seasons with but released him as a cap causality this offseason.
He is certainly going to be motivated for those two games against his former team. He has put Aaron Rodgers on notice, as he is expecting to get after him when they meet on the field now as opponents.
Smith was excellent in his first two seasons with the Packers, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 2019 and 2020. He combined for 26 sacks in those two seasons with 29 tackles for loss and 60 quarterback hits.
He was injured in Week 1 of the 2021 season, but returned for the team’s Divisional Round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. Smith showcased he has plenty left in the tank, registering a sack in that game with one tackle for loss and quarterback hit.
Minnesota is certainly hoping that he can replicate what he did in his first two seasons in Green Bay for them. It would help take their defense to another level and help close the gap that the Packers have put between themselves and the rest of the division.