Minnesota Vikings land OLB Za'Darius Smith with deal sources say is three years, $42 million

Outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith has agreed to terms on a three-year, $42 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings, sources told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The deal can be worth up to $47 million if he reaches incentives, the sources told ESPN.

The Vikings announced Tuesday that they had reached a three-year deal with Smith but did not disclose financial terms.

Last week, Smith backed off from an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens when he decided not to sign a four-year, $35 million deal. His decision paid off financially as his new deal with the Vikings will average $14 million per season compared with the $8.75 million average he would have been paid by the Ravens.

A source told ESPN's Jamison Hensley last week that the Ravens believed they had reached a verbal agreement on a deal with Smith, but a few hours later he expressed second thoughts after two pass-rushers had their big-money deals announced: Von Miller (six years, $120 million for an average of $20 million per season) with the Buffalo Bills and Chandler Jones (three years, $51 million for an average of $17 million per season) with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Ravens tried to rework the deal, but the sides couldn't reach an agreement, the source added.

With defensive end Danielle Hunter returning after a torn pectoral muscle that limited him to seven games last season, the Vikings will have a pair of proven pass-rushers to lean on. Vikings assistant head coach Mike Pettine was Smith's defensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers in 2019 and 2020.

The Packers released Smith on March 14 as part of a series of moves to get under the salary cap.

Smith, who was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons with the Packers (2019 and 2020) and was a second-team All-Pro in 2020, played only 18 snaps in the 2021 regular season. All came in the season opener before he underwent back surgery. He did not return until the NFC divisional playoff game, a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Last offseason, Smith made attempts to secure a contract extension with the Packers, even changing agents in May. However, he dealt with a back injury that kept him out of offseason practices and most of training camp.

Smith was the highest-priced free agent ever signed by general manager Brian Gutekunst, who gave him a four-year, $66 million deal. He lived up to it early on, posting the most sacks (26) by a player in his first two seasons with the Packers. He was one of only three players in the NFL with 12-plus sacks in 2019 and 2020, joining Aaron Donald and T.J. Watt.

Smith, 29, has 44.5 sacks in seven NFL seasons. He entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick by the Ravens in 2015.

ESPN's Rob Demovsky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.