Vikings Make Highly Anticipated Move With Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have seen players come and go this offseason. One player who isn’t going anywhere is 12-year veteran safety Harrison Smith.

The six-time Pro Bowler was set to hit the third year of his four-year, $64 million contract with a $19.2 million cap hit in 2024. That was before Smith and the Vikings agreed to a reworked contract.

“THE HITMAN,” the team posted on X, formerly Twitter, on March 13. “#Vikings and @HarriSmith22 have reached an agreement that keeps him with the team.”

“Harrison Smith’s new deal is for $9 million, per his agency @AthletesFirst,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on X on March 13. Some cap relief for the #Vikings, and a little more Hitman for Minnesota.”

Smith, 35, recorded 93 stops last season, the third-most of his career. He also had 3.0 sacks and three forced fumbles, adding three pass deflections for good measure.

He also played his first full slate of games in three seasons.

Smith has battled injuries throughout his career, missing games in six of his 12 seasons. There were some questions about whether or not he would return for his 13th NFL season or opt for retirement following his comments to end the season.

“Whenever I retire, I’m not going to tell you,” Smith said smirking, per the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer on January 8. “You’ll figure it out. I’ll say this: It’s hard to have the ability to play and not have a desire to play. Whatever that gives you, I’m not trying to be ominous or anything. Right now, my shoulder hurts.”

Something to this effect was always expected this offseason. And Smith’s return bodes well for the Vikings even if there was uncertainty about his return.

Harrison Smith Still Performing at Elite Level for Vikings

Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

GettyHarrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite the concerns about whether or not Smith would return, it was never a matter of whether or not he could still produce at a high level even as he posted the third-lowest grade of his career, per Pro Football Focus.

He also posted his second-worst missed tackle rate, per Pro Football Reference. Smith still showed well in several key other advanced metrics.

He allowed the third-lowest completion percentage of his career, and finished in the top five in both defensive stops (tied-2nd) and receptions over expectation (3rd), per NFL Next Gen Stats on March 13.

The Vikings’ defense also blitzed at the highest rate since 2018, narrowly edging out the 2019 Baltimore Ravens.

Aggressive schemes can put defensive players in unfavorable positions and lead to missed tackles.

Vikings Getting Finances in Order

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

GettyJustin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings.

This move will bring the Vikings to just under $30 million in cap space. They could use some of that to keep filling holes and adding depth. But they will also likely try to maintain some level of flexibility with Justin Jefferson’s impending mega deal.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on “NFL Live” on March 12 that Jefferson rejected an offer from the Vikings that would have paid him $30 million annually.

That would have tied Miami Dolphins wideout Tyreek Hill, who leads the way for the position.

But former Vikings general manager Jeff Diamond, now of  33rd Team projected on January 24 that it would take a $35 million annual rate to satiate the four-time Pro Bowl playmaker on his next contract after the historic start to his career.

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