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Vikings' Za'Darius Smith requests release from team; Minnesota has no plans to cut LB

Za’Darius Smith's tenure in Minnesota has hit a snag.

The linebacker informed the Vikings he wishes to be released, but the team has no plans to do so, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.

The situation remains unsolved, Rapoport added.

Smith enjoyed a resurgent 2022 season in Minnesota after missing all but one game during his 2021 campaign in Green Bay due to a back injury. For the third time in four seasons, he started 16 games, collected double-digit sacks (10) and was named to the Pro Bowl.

But just as his standout seasons with the Packers eventually unraveled into a contentious end, a season with the Vikings that appeared successful from the outside looking in has not led to harmony in Minnesota.

So, Smith now hopes to be allowed to find a fourth NFL home. In eight seasons -- four with the Ravens, three with the Packers and just one with the Vikings -- Smith has 54.5 sacks, 12 passes defensed, nine forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Although the Vikings have no reported intention to comply with Smith's request, the team would save $12.1 million in 2023 with $3.3 million in dead money if it does at some point cut ties. The sudden talent deficiency at the edge position would be a detriment to such a move, but Minnesota does currently sit $15.8 million over the cap ahead of the new league year.

That stress on the cap was reflected in the release of longtime Viking Eric Kendricks on Monday, and safety Harrison Smith, who has played with Minnesota since 2012, has also been a name to watch as a potential cap casualty.

Should the two parties patch things up, Smith still has two years remaining on his contract, neither of which have any guaranteed salary.

Should Smith get his wish, he'd jump to the top of a thin free-agent class at edge.

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