It seemed like a formality when Za'Darius Smith posted a photo of himself smiling at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, and when Adam Thielen tweeted about Smith liking life in Minnesota. And now it is a done deal.
The Vikings confirmed Tuesday that Smith has signed with the team, where he'll be the bookend edge rusher to Danielle Hunter.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Smith is getting a three-year deal worth $42 million, though escalators could push its value up to $47 million. To make signing him possible, the Vikings and Hunter agreed to restructure his deal, with ESPN's Field Yates saying Hunter's $18 million roster bonus is being converted to a signing bonus, which creates $13.5 million cap space this year.
Smith, 29, played just 18 snaps this past season and underwent back surgery to repair an injury. If he were to sign with the Vikings, he and Danielle Hunter, who has played in just seven games over the past two seasons due to injuries, would create one of the best 1-2 pass-rushing punches in the NFL. At least when they're healthy.
Smith racked up a combined 26 sacks in 2019 and 2020 and made it to the Pro Bowl both years.
The addition of Smith gives defensive coordinator Ed Donatell quite a bit to work with, though he'll need his starters to stay healthy unlike seasons past. He's got Smith and Hunter attacking from the edges, with "Horrible" Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson on the interior. The linebackers consist of Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks.
Overall, that's a lot of guys who can get to the quarterback, which might be paramount in 2022 considering Harrison Smith is the only bonafide starter set to return in the secondary.