4 Minnesota Vikings players entering boom or bust seasons in 2022

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) Za'Darius Smith
(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) Za'Darius Smith /
2 of 4
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) Za’Darius Smith /

Za’Darius Smith – OLB

The Minnesota Vikings signing Za’Darius Smith in free agency was their marquee arrival this offseason. His production throughout a glittering career with the Green Bay Packers was exceptional and if this transitions to their NFC North rival, it could play a significant role in the divisional title race.

Smith’s edge-rushing partnership with Danielle Hunter could be among the league’s most prolific if both stay clear of injuries. However, that is far from a guarantee given what the veteran duo went through last season.

That’s where the potential complication emerges for Smith. The Vikings invested a substantial amount in securing his services, so spending considerable time on the sidelines would be nothing short of disastrous.

This is the definition of boom or bust. If Smith stays fit the numbers will follow, but the former Kentucky standout isn’t getting any younger and his health needs to be monitored extremely closely throughout the campaign.

Hopes are high for Smith to return to the form that saw him secure 12.5 sacks in 2020. But one cannot overlook the potential for this move to go wrong after the pass-rusher turned out just once last time around.