After spending two days visiting with free agent defensive back Dwight Smith, the Vikings have agreed to terms with the sixth-year safety.
Smith's best years have been his last three seasons, when he registered 85 or more tackles per season. He has started 49 of the 78 career games he has played with New Orleans (2005) and Tampa Bay (2001-04), and enjoyed a breakout performance in Super Bowl XXXVII while with Tampa Bay against Oakland when he returned a pair of interceptions for TDs to set a Super Bowl record.
Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin was the secondary coach in Tampa Bay when Smith was there.
Now Smith will come in and is expected to assume a starting job in a crowded defensive backfield with safeties Darren Sharper, Tank Williams and Willie Offord.
"There's no such thing as having too many good players," said Vikings head coach Brad
Childress. "We're glad to add a player of Dwight's quality to the defense."
Smith was originally a third-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2001 out of the
University of Toledo. In his rookie year, Smith played sparingly on defense but had a career-high 21 tackles on special teams.
In 2002, he recorded 29 tackles on defense and 20 on special teams. He became a full-time starter in 2003, when he had 85 tackles, and he followed that with 104 and 86 tackles the following two years, respectively.
He has 14 career interceptions, all in the last four seasons.
"This is a great opportunity for a fresh start," Smith said. "I get to play with my old coach again. There are a bunch of great veterans already in the room. Hopefully I can be an addition that can help somewhere and I'm going to fit where needed."
Smith was also reportedly courted by Baltimore and Tampa Bay, but the Bucs were only willing to give him a one-year deal. The Vikings signed him to a three-year, $6.5 million deal, but protected themselves somewhat by not giving him a signing bonus. Instead, he will receive a roster bonus and several workout bonuses, according to several published reports.
Smith is expected to start at free safety with Darren Sharper moving to strong safety. Tank Williams is expected to move into a reserve role.
Vikings, Smith Agree to Terms
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