EAGAN, Minn. — One of the Vikings biggest rivals in recent seasons has agreed to join the squad.
Minnesota announced Tuesday it has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with Za'Darius Smith, a veteran outside linebacker who spent the past three seasons with Green Bay.
Smith, who made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons with the Packers, played just 18 snaps in 2021 due to a back injury. Smith dealt with the injury in training camp and played in Green Bay's season opener, but didn't see the field for the rest of the season.
The 29-year-old, who has 44.5 career sacks, has plenty of experience in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
His arrival in Minnesota reunites him with Mike Smith, Minnesota's new outside linebackers coach who held that same role with the Packers from 2019-21, and Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine, who was Green Bay's defensive coordinator from 2018-20.
View photos of new Vikings OLB Za'Darius Smith who joined the team during free agency.
The two Smiths joined forces in 2019, when the linebacker recorded careers highs in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (17) as he made his first Pro Bowl.
Smith followed that up with another Pro-Bowl season with 12.5 sacks, also earning Second-Team All-Pro honors from The Associated Press.
He had plenty of success against the Vikings, too, recording 4.5 total sacks in four games in those two seasons.
The linebacker was downright dominant in Week 16 of the 2019 season, tallying 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in a 23-10 Packers win that clinched the NFC North and was Green Bay's first victory at U.S Bank Stadium.
Smith's health prevented him from a third straight impressive season, but the Vikings will hope his familiarity with Mike Smith and the 3-4 scheme leads to strong production.
Originally a 2015 fourth-round pick by the Ravens out of Kentucky, Smith spent the first four seasons of his career in Baltimore.
He racked up 18.5 sacks in 16 career starts with the Ravens, with his eight starts in 2018 the most of his career to that point.
Overall, Smith has played in 91 career games with 48 starts. Besides his 44.5 career sacks, he has also posted eight forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 53 tackles for loss and seven passes defensed.