Once-Promising Vikings WR Could Hit Open Market

PurplePTSD: Ihmir-Smith Marsette in the AFC, Cameron Dantzler, Mike Brown Sighting
Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Back in 2021, former Minnesota Vikings WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette was labeled by fans as a possible breakout candidate.

Once-Promising Vikings WR Could Hit Open Market

He fired up flashes of promise in his rookie season, and many tabbed the young wideout as the club’s presumptive WR4 for 2022.

Vikings WR
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

But then general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell took over that year, spelling the end of Smith-Marsette’s brief purple career. He’s bounced around since.

Now, with NFL free agency three days away, Smith-Marsette could again see the open market. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweeted Friday, “The Panthers are not expected to tender restricted free agent WR/PR Ihmir Smith-Marsette but sides are open to a re-sign, per source. Smith-Marsette returned 37 punts for 322 yards and a touchdown last season.”

Vikings WR Traded
Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic.

Smith-Marsette joined the Panthers late last summer via trade from the Kansas City Chiefs. Per the Fowler tweet, it seems he could re-sign in Carolina, though the priority wasn’t too high if the franchise didn’t tender him.

The Vikings released Smith-Marsette on the same day in August of 2022 that Jalen Reagor joined the club via trade. The news was stunning for Vikings fans, as most held him in high regard and penciled him in for a 53-man roster spot.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette Heads to Super Bowl Contender
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

But that forecast was fan-driven, as Smith-Marsette struggled mightily in his next adventure with the Chicago Bears. His tenure in Chicago lasted about seven weeks in 2022. The Bears said sayonara to the 23-year-old in October after a series of bloopers, as Smith-Marsette encountered drops, penalties, fumbles, and generalized futility with the Bears, so the relationship was short-lived.

He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs soon after and won a Super Bowl for his troubles, although he participated in just 13 plays as a Chief. Kansas City didn’t keep him on the roster beyond 2022, sending him to Carolina via the aforementioned trade. Here’s Smith-Marsette’s career resume to date:

  • Minnesota Vikings (2021)
  • Chicago Bears (2022)
  • Kansas City Chiefs (2022)
  • Carolina Panthers (2023)

Minnesota selected Smith-Marsette in the 5th Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but like much of that draft class, he was chopped by Minnesota’s new leadership regime in 2022. Sixty-three percent of the Vikings 2021 draft class now plays elsewhere.

2 Vikings Return From IR
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2021 as a rookie, Smith-Marsette caught 5 passes for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. His career seemed trending upward in Minnesota but served as a cautionary tale that sometimes fans just get it wrong, especially when a new front office takes over.

Smith-Marsette will latch on somewhere for 2024, perhaps a reunion in Carolina. He’ll turn 25 in August.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.