3 reasons why the Vikings could regret the Za'Darius Smith trade

Former Minnesota Vikings OLB Za' Darius Smith
Former Minnesota Vikings OLB Za' Darius Smith / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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Marcus Davenport is a downgrade over Za’Darius Smith

Shortly after Za'Darius Smith’s cryptic Twitter post made the rounds, the Vikings agreed to a one-year, $13 million contract with Marcus Davenport. A former first-round pick, Davenport will be relied upon to soften the blow of losing one of the Vikings' top edge rushers from a year ago, but even at his best, he still may not be as good as Smith.

During the 2022 season, Smith ranked fifth among edge rushers with 80 pressures. He also ranked 22nd among all edge rushers with a 9.1 pass rusher productivity rating and has 10 or more sacks and 50 or more quarterback pressures in three of the past four seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.

Even after Smith suffered the knee injury that led to his decline, he racked up 32 quarterback pressures and a 7.5 PRP rating over the final seven games. Both numbers were higher than Davenport’s season totals, as he logged a 6.9 PRP rating and 34 pressures in 15 games with the New Orleans Saints.

Looking back at Davenport’s career, he’s never recorded 10 or more sacks in a season and he’s logged 50 or more pressures just once in his career.

At 26 years old, Davenport may have more potential than Smith, who will turn 31 in September. But assuming Davenport will turn out is a bold move for a front office looking to build off a 13-win season.