Vikings would reportedly like to keep Za'Darius Smith for 2023 season

Za'Darius Smith
Za'Darius Smith / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

His future with the franchise is still in question, but the Minnesota Vikings would reportedly like to keep pass rusher Za'Darius Smith on their 2023 roster.

Halfway into the 2022 season, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith seemed like one of the best free-agent signings ever made by the Minnesota Vikings. Through the Vikings' first nine games last year, Smith had already accumlated 9.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, and 25 pressures.

However, the veteran defender was a bit more banged up during the second half of the 2022 campaign, and that resulted in him only generating 0.5 sacks and one tackle for a loss during his final seven appearances for Minnesota last season.

This year, some believed Smith would end up parting with the Vikings based on his age (30) and his lackluster performance during the second half of last season. But no departure has taken place yet, and it sounds like Minnesota would prefer for that not to happen.

Minnesota Vikings would reportedly like Za'Darius Smith to return for another season

With Smith's future with the Vikings still unknown, KSTP's Darren Wolfson shared the latest that he has heard about the situation during a recent episode of SKOR North's "The Scoop w/Doogie" podcast.

"[The Vikings] would like him to be [in Minnesota]. He would like more money. He hasn't been in town for workouts. He would welcome his release or a trade. But I still think there's some massaging that can happen there. Brian Flores would love to have Za'Darius Smith [on Minnesota's defense]."

Currently, Smith is scheduled to take home $12.5 million in 2023. It clearly sounds like he would like a bump in his pay before returning to the locker room in Minnesota, but his representation and the team obviously haven't been able to agree on any sort of new deal.

It's possible that the Vikings could be waiting to make any changes to Smith's current contract until after their expected departure with running back Dalvin Cook takes place this summer. Minnesota would clear up at least $9 million in cap space by cutting or trading Cook after June 1st this year.

We likely won't have a more definitive answer about Smith's future until after June 1st. But at the very least, it seems like the Vikings would like to figure out a way to keep the pass rusher on their roster for the upcoming 2023 season.

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