The longest-tenured Minnesota Vikings player now has a strong chance to retire just that — a Viking.
Harrison Smith, 32, agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract extension that will tie the five-time Pro Bowl safety to the organization through the 2025 season.
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Smith Hits Highest Pay in NFL History
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Smith, earning $22.5 million in the next eight months, will see the highest earnings in that period in NFL history for a safety.
Smith’s $16 million annual salary on his new contract places him as the second-highest paid safety in the league, trailing on Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams with $17.5 million a year.
Rapoport added that Smith will receive $26.38 million guaranteed as part of the deal, a report the Star Tribune confirmed. Smith was scheduled to make $10.2 million in the final year of his last extension that made him the league’s highest-paid safety in 2016. His new deal will effectively begin after this season, adding four years to his current contract.
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Smith, a Maddening Presence on Defense
Smith’s versatility has helped transform the Vikings defense into a perennial top-10 unit. He made five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2015 to 2019 before his streak was snapped among an inexperienced and undermanned defense last season.
That didn’t stop Smith from making an impact. He tied a career-high five interceptions in 2020 and is currently seventh all-time in Vikings history with 28 sacks and third-among safeties.
Pro Football Focus has ranked Smith in the top five at his position four separate seasons.
“He’s the most frustrating guy I play against with his disguises,” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in November on The Pat McAfee Show. “He does so many different things from the line of scrimmage — blitz, play the curl flat in a two-invert, run back and play quarter safety, run back and play the half, run back and play the middle-field third.
“It’s a little maddening sometimes with what they do,” Rodgers added.
Smith Compared to Hall of Famer
To receive a compliment from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick may be the highest form of flattery in the NFL.
Belicheck compared Smith to the likes of Hall of Fame safeties Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu and Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed after a game in 2018.
“Harrison Smtih does a great job with pre-snap disguise. He’s one of the best — you know, Smith, Ed Reed, (Troy Polamalu. Those guys are, I’d say among the best. He’s certainly right there. He’s a hard guy to read,” Belichick said. “He does an excellent job of timing his movement based on either the quarterback’s cadence, the offensive formation, motion, the play clock, all those combinations of things. He’s done an excellent job using some or all of them to put the offense in a difficult position to account for them or to not account for them when he’s blitzing and so forth. He’s really good.
While Smith has been a quiet producer over his 10-year career, he has already surpassed Polamalu in several categories.