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Vikings Don’t Intend to Release Pro Bowl LB Za’Darius Smith, per Report

Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith indicated a possible departure from the team on Thursday after posting a “Thank You” message on social media. But, while Smith appears to be done in Minnesota, the star pass-rusher still reportedly remains in the organization’s plans going forward.

Smith, 30, recently informed the Vikings of his desire to be released, but the team has no plans to release him at this time, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The ongoing situation currently remains “unresolved,” Rapoport added.

Thursday’s report came on the heels of an apparent goodbye message from Smith to the Vikings and their fans, thanking them for their support during the third Pro Bowl season of his career. The 2022 campaign marked Smith’s first in Minnesota after he signed a three-year, $42 million deal last offseason following his release from the Packers.

Smith tweeted, “I just want to say “Thank you!” to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization!”  It’s worth noting that Smith’s tweet also comes less than a month after he reportedly put his Minnesota home up for sale.

As of Thursday afternoon, the team has not announced any moves in relation to Smith.

While Smith’s future with Minnesota remains unknown, the eight-year veteran’s contract sets up what could be a potentially interesting next few months for both sides. If Smith returns, he will earn $13.8 million and carry a $15.5 cap hit in 2023; however, if the team pivots their stance and decides to move on, cutting Smith would save the Vikings roughly $12.2 million in cap space and add a big-time playmaker to free agency.

Following his departure from Green Bay after three seasons, Smith turned in a bounce-back year coming off a back injury that limited him to just one game in ’22. Smith, who dealt with a knee during the second half of the ’23 season, logged 44 tackles, 10 sacks, 24 quarterback hits, and a forced fumble in 16 starts.