Za'Darius Smith was recently released by the Green Bay Packers, making him an unrestricted free agent in the 2022 NFL offseason. He missed all but one game during the 2021 season due to injuries, which may have contributed to the Packers' decision to let him go while also freeing up salary-cap space.
Before the injury that plagued the 2021 season, Za'Darius Smith registered two consecutive strong seasons as a pass rusher for the Green Bay Packers. Across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Smith combined for 26 sacks and 60 quarterback hits while being selected to the Pro Bowl both years.
Productive pass rushers are always in high demand for NFL teams, so Smith should have a relatively strong market of interested teams during the 2022 free agency period. Here are three teams that make sense as ideal landing spots for Smith.
Potential destinations for Za'Darius Smith during the 2022 NFL free agency period
#1 - Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks recorded just 34 total team sacks during the 2021 season, the 9th fewest in the entire NFL. No player on their roster recorded more than 8.5 sacks individually, demonstrating their lack of a consistently productive pass rusher on their roster.
Signing Smith in free agency would help fill one of the most significant needs for the Seahawks next year, especially on the defensive side. They have more than 40 million dollars in available cap space, so they have the flexibility to make some big moves.
#2 - Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears recently traded superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack, to the Los Angeles Chargers. They could also potentially be losing Akiem Hicks, who is currently without a contract and is an unrestricted free agent.
The Bears ranked fourth in the NFL last season with 49 sacks, so it was one of the strengths of their team. They will need to reload with some new players in the position if they want it to remain one of their strengths for the 2022 season. Za'Darius Smith can help them do that.
#3 - Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers recorded 39 sacks as a team during the 2021 season, which ranked right around the middle of the pack. The issue is that they just lost Haason Reddick, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. He led the team with 11 sacks last season, so the Panthers should replace his production.