Note: read the story before commenting.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
A future, current, and ex-Vikings player walk into a bar… Or rather… A veteran Vikings player that was drafted and developed by the team is using social media to show his apparent frustration with the team before a probable trade. While this situation is completely different from the Stefon Diggs drama, there have been reports that the best safety in Minnesota Vikings history, Harrison Smith, has unfollowed the Vikings on social media amidst reports that the team is “very open” to trading him.
People have gone back and forth on social media as to whether Smith followed the team in the first place over the past 48 hours while I waited, patiently, for writers block/an opportunity to opine on what this even means. Then I realized, there’s a story here regardless that is actually pretty important and going unreported.
First, some evidence/context:
For what it's worth, S Harrison Smith has unfollowed the #Vikings on both Instagram and Twitter.
— Vikes Insider (@vikesinsider) October 25, 2020
Again, it’s hard to prove that Smith followed the Vikings in the first place, Smith follows other Minnesota sports teams and multiple accounts are reporting that he did in fact once follow the Vikings.
He was following them. I checked numerous players about a year ago for a different rumor, Harrison WAS following the Vikings on IG and Twitter, now he’s not.
— TB92 (@tyler_bakkila) October 25, 2020
The real question is, does this matter?
Not really. But the real question is whether Smith has a reason to be upset at how the Vikings are handling this rumored fire sale of it’s veterans and whether or not a rebuild means you move on from every star on your roster over the age of 28, and because of the stir this apparent non-story created on social media (and the responses we’ve seen from people when talking about trading players like Smith), how much more Vikings fans can take in 2020 before moving on to something less painful like a vasectomy.
The reason this story even took place on this level is due to the fact that Smith is the player that rivals Adam Thielen in terms of what he means to the team and also how angrily people have responded to articles/reports about any potential trade. While Smith is 31, and is in the final year of his deal and playing without any guaranteed money left.
I can see why some people hope(d) this was true as it’d be a sign, though, that Smith wants to stay in Minnesota (so there is no potential out for the team like may have existed with Yannick Ngakoue). As in, the team can’t say that they traded Smith for a third-round pick because he was going to leave the team after the season anyway.
Outside of that, removing emotion and loyalty from the equation, does it make sense to trade Smith?
I’d argue that it doesn’t because outside of very rare circumstances, NFL trades RARELY work for both teams because NFL general managers and coaches value draft picks way more than they do established players that are worth trading for and thus of some pretty high value. While they’ve increased in recent years, the NFL isn’t a super trade happy league and so when a trade happens it’s usually from a contender or up-and-coming team looking to replace an injured player or find a final piece.
Imagine if you had a car that has been extremely reliable both in terms of how it runs in general and in the winter. It’s a luxury car but it’s also not exactly new, but this car has never let you down and should run for at least five more years before your lease is up. What if someone came to you and offered to trade you another car, but instead of offering a specific car gave you a list of 10 potential cars. Some could end up being nicer than your car, although the blue book value of each on that list isn’t as high as what you paid or what you’ve received from your car, and there’s a pretty high chance that you could end up with a worse car or a complete lemon.
Would you make that trade?
Of course not. But the Vikings are in a position where they have a lot of full of those cars and really no reason to own them as they’re in the midst of a complete rebuild.
However, rebuilds aren’t synonymous with getting rid of every single player of value on your team (unless you’re Jacksonville). Or they shouldn’t be.
That having been said, the Vikings are, as we speak, figuring out which players are part of their future and they very well could end up moving on from every player over the age of 30 on their defense (and offensive line). That much is obvious.
Trading Thielen would anger Vikings fans in ways we’ve never seen, as when Randy Moss was traded there were a lot of “fans” that applauded the move because they’d become spoiled by Moss’ brilliance and bought into the media-driven narrative that he somehow was a locker room cancer because he bumped a crossing guard with his car whilst, gap, also having a small amount of marijuana in his glove compartment.
Thielen has no such reputation, although he has expressed frustration with the team on a couple of occasions and received a pass (pun?) from everyone because he’s from Minnesota and is considered to be an all-around hard-working, nice guy. I can’t imagine that the team would move on from him, but it appears that they are openly shopping Harrison Smith someone with a sparkling reputation and beloved following from the Vikings faithful.
Smith plays like a guy who will be good for the next half-decade, so I’d argue that the better move would be to trade the Vikings’ other safety, Anthony Harris for a couple reasons.
Harris was franchise tagged before the season and isn’t much younger than Smith (29 vs. 31), has flashy interceptions on his resume, and would be much easier to replace than Smith.
Harris, also, isn’t one of the leaders of this team and while fan sentiment really doesn’t dictate how the team operates, the Vikings still need to eventually sell tickets and moving on from Smith would be a nightmare.
Regardless Smith the main take away isn’t some social media shade but rather that Smith would have a right to be pissed with the team and how it’s handled his status with the team he’s done everything for. Meaning, the Vikings can’t even fail correctly.
That’s what happens when you leak to one of the biggest reporters in the game, Jason La Canfora, that you’re “very open” to trading one of your main leaders/stars. There are ways to handle this sort of thing and while players understand that trades are part of the business, I’m sure the semantics of the Vikings being “very” open rubbed Smith the wrong way.
That makes it sound like the trade is a foregone conclusion, and it appears that the Vikings created an atmosphere in which the feeling could now be openly mutual.
Yeah. As if the 2020 season/year needed another log on the dumpster fire. But I should go, I have a vasectomy scheduled for 3pm.