Green Bay, Wis. – Former Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith did not speak to reporters last season and decided not to share much about his injury-ridden 2021 season on social media.
But in an interview with Go Long, a football website created by former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tyler Dunne, Smith told the Packers how they treated him last year and signed a deal with the Minnesota Vikings after the cut in March. had the advantage of doing it. Chance to face the Packers this season.
“I played a year of high school football,” Smith told Dune. “For me where I am today, that’s how you know I love the sport. I put my everything into it. So I realized what I did with Green Bay – I gave that (inadequate) my all. I put my blood, sweat… I put my back on the (active) line. I put everything on. And that year 3, I was treated badly. That’s why I’m here now. So, I do them twice a year I can play.”
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Smith agreed to a free agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens after the Packers released him—receiving $15.7 million in salary cap room in the process—but not long after called his agent and told him that He wants to sign with the Vikings. Smith began his career with the Ravens and in 2019 signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Packers as an unrestricted free agent.
He had a remarkable year in ’19, ending the regular season with 13½ sacks, 25 quarterback hits and 38 quarterback pressure. He didn’t dominate as much in the ’20s, but he still finished with 12½ sacks, eight quarterback hits and 16 pressures.
Smith said he hurt his back to lift the weight early in the 2021 camp.
“I go to the trainers, they tell me one thing,” Smith said. “I said, ‘Okay, I guess I need a second opinion.’ Because this (stuff) doesn’t seem like anything normal. It was training camp. He was coming back for training camp. When it happened, I said, ‘Let me get a second opinion.’ They didn’t want me to go because it was a training camp.
Smith attempted to rehearse on August 16 but was back in rehab the next day. He said he eventually went to Los Angeles to examine his back and it was determined that renowned spinal surgeon Robert Watkins would repair a bulge pressing on a nerve.
Smith had surgery in late September, being away from the facility for a month and returning to the facility in early November. He said he was not accepted.
“How I was (allegedly) here in the building, I came here, nobody has,” Smith said. “To everyone in the making. I was like, ‘Hey, why am I being treated like this?’ I brought the culture. I helped change it (stuff). Why am I being treated like this?”
He said he felt neglected.
“Walking behind me isn’t saying anything,” said Smith. “(No) ‘Jade, how’s your back doing?’ – There was nothing like that. As you can see, it adds up to why I’m on the other side. So, I can go back. I have to go back twice a year.”
Coach Matt LaFleur was asked how he felt about Smith’s comments.
He said, “I respect Jade’s bullshit as a player. He busted his butt and did a lot of great things. I think we might have a different view of how things went.” “
Smith said that when he arrived he spent time with Vikings players and coaches, paying attention to some of the Packers’ calls and the players’ strengths and weaknesses. He has been healthy through training camp and is expected to start on the outside linebacker for the Vikings in their season opener on Sunday against the Packers.