The Minnesota Vikings today released running back Onterrio Smith. Scout.com first reported this was a likely move last month. Smith played for the Vikings during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
When asked about Smith's situation at a pre-draft press conference this afternoon, head coach Brad Childress said only that the league's substance abuse policy was well-guarded. Two hours later, however, Childress was quoted in a Vikings press release.
"We've decided to terminate Onterrio Smith's contract ahead of this weekend's college draft. We wish him well in his future endeavors," Childress said.
Smith rushed for 579 yards (a 5.4-yard average) and had 129 receiving yards in 2003 after being a fourth-round draft choice and declaring himself the "Steal of the Draft." He served a four-game suspension in 2004 for a second strike against the league's substance abuse policy, but still managed 544 yards rushing and 394 receiving yards.
After a third strike against the league's substance abuse policy, Smith was suspended for the entire 2005 season, and indications are his suspension might last even longer.
The Vikings signed Chester Taylor to assume the featured back role in 2006 and have Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason behind him. The have shown interest in several draft-eligible running backs throughout the predraft off-season process.
The Vikings head into the draft mindful that the league has no intention of letting Onterrio Smith…