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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vikings release Smith

The stormy, two-year marriage between Dwight Smith and the Vikings came to a sudden end today when the team released the veteran safety.

"I appreciate his contributions the last couple of years," coach Brad Childress, in Indianapolis for today's start of the NFL scouting combine, said in a brief telephone interview. "It's just a matter of we're moving in a different direction."

Childress wouldn't elaborate on possible reasons for the move, but he said Smith was released at this time to give him and his agent an opportunity to try to hook on with another team in advance of the start of free agency, Feb. 29.

With Tank Williams and Mike Doss both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, starter Darren Sharper and rookie Eric Frampton are the only two safeties under contract, but Childress declined to say how the team might address the position in free agency and/or the draft.

"It's almost like every position," Childress said. "You have to carefully comb through the guys that are available. Hopefully, we'll be able to find someone."

Smith, 29, intercepted four passes in each of his two seasons with the Vikings, but he also was arrested twice: once in 2006 for indecent conduct with a woman in a stairwell outside a downtown Minneapolis nightclub and last season for obstructing traffic and marijuana possession outside a strip club.

The drug charge was dropped earlier this month.

Childress, asked how big a factor Smith's off-the-field problems played in the decision to release him, declined to answer.

"I don't want to cast any aspersions on him," Childress said. "We're just moving in a different direction and leave it at that."


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