Za’Darius Smith reveals the reason he rejected the Ravens

Za’Darius Smith joined the Minnesota Vikings in free agency, leaving division rival Green Bay Packers in the dust after losing a key part of their defense. But the star defensive end also let the Baltimore Ravens breathe, as he walked away from their four-year, $35 million deal just a day after agreeing to it.

According to Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune, Smith said he wanted to find a team that had a coaching staff he knew. He found one in Minnesota, leading to his quick exit from the Ravens.

“I love Baltimore, I want to thank Baltimore for giving me the opportunity, but things just didn’t work out,” Smith said. “In my heart, I just wanted to be somewhere where I knew the coaching staff. I didn’t have to go that far, three hours on the road [from Green Bay].”

Smith has missed all but two games of the 2021 season due to back surgery. In the previous two seasons, he was a Pro Bowler and recorded 60 quarterback hits, 26 sacks, and five forced fumbles in the two seasons. He now joins a Vikings defense that could use a star edge rusher.

With Minnesota focusing heavily on offense by signing former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, Smith’s touchdown is a very big addition. He joins Jordan Hicks and Harrison Philips as other key additions to the Vikings defense.

The Ravens pivoted quickly after losing Smith, signing defensive tackle Michael Pierce.

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