Trade Proposal Sees Vikings Part Ways With 6-Time Pro Bowler

Getty General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings‘ new general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, has already stirred the pot in Minneapolis, and as a decision-maker who tends to think a little differently, chances are he will do it again.

Were Adofo-Mensah to trade star safety Harrison Smith, that would probably be enough to get the job done. However, that’s exactly the advice Alex Kay of Bleacher Report suggested to the Vikings on August 15.

As tough as it would be to lose Smith in Minnesota, there is something to be said for selling high on the hard-hitting 33-year-old, who is entering his 11th season as a professional. Smith has earned trips to the Pro Bowl in six of the last seven years as either a free safety or a strong safety, but the law of diminishing returns has to kick in sooner than later at such a physical position after such a protracted stretch of time.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN in July polled league executives, coaches and players who shared similar sentiment about Smith as he moves toward the twilight years of his career. The safety fell in the network’s annual ranking of best back-end defenders from No. 5 to No. 7 in 2022.

“Obviously he’s getting older, but his intelligence overcomes a lot of that,” a defensive coach told Folwer.

Smith’s overall rating indicates that he still has good seasons ahead of him, but in terms of trade value, his value should only be expected to decline.

“Smith, no doubt, was [the standard] and the prototype for a long time,” an NFC executive said. “Age gets us all.”

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Vikings Have Option to Sell High Now on Safety Harrison Smith

Harrison smith

GettyStrong safety Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings hold all the cards in Smith’s case signing him in August 2021 to a four-year extension worth $64 million. Minnesota built an out into his contract after next season, allowing them to cut the safety if they are willing to eat a dead salary cap number of $11.7 million, per Spotrac.

If, at any point, the Vikings’ front office has reservations about Smith, or Adofo-Mensah makes a move to sell high, looking for a trade partner would be the preferred option over keeping Smith at an overpay or cutting him for a nearly $12 million loss.

Minnesota also has a pair of recently drafted safeties who could fill the void Smith would leave behind were the Vikings to trade him, per Kay’s article in Bleacher Report.

Minnesota’s first-round selection of safety Lewis Cine could ease the transition away from [Smith]. Cine said that Smith has been tutoring him, passing down knowledge earned over a decade of playing in the NFL at a high level.

Cine and Camryn Bynum, a fourth-round pick last year, would rank among the league’s youngest starting safeties, but their presence would give the Vikings secondary a foundation to build upon for years to come.

If Minnesota can land a respectable draft pick for Smith and successfully transition to a new set of defensive backs, the team will have made the right move by putting the veteran on the block.

Contender Makes Most Sense as Trade Partner For Vikings’ Smith

Harrison Smith and Anthony Barr

GettyStrong safety Harrison Smith (22) of the Minnesota Vikings returns an interception with teammates Xavier Rhodes (29) and Anthony Barr (55) in 2018.

Smith’s current talent level and long-term career trajectory make playoff-caliber teams that need help in the secondary the most likely trade fits.

Franchises still in need of legitimate safety help after the draft included the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles, according to a May story in The Athletic.

Minnesota boasted five Pro Bowlers in 2021, though Smith was the only one on the defense side. The four others were quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Justin Jefferson, running back Dalvin Cook and right tackle Brian O’Neill.

Across 145 appearances over the course of his career, Smith has tallied 861 tackles, including 42 tackles for loss, 73 passes defensed, 36 quarterback hits, 29 interceptions, 16.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, eight recovered fumbles and has scored four touchdowns.

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