Harrison Smith Did ‘Harrison Smith Things’ on Thursday

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The Minnesota Vikings drafted safety Harrison Smith 11 years ago from Notre Dame, and if Thursday was a reasonable indicator, the veteran defender seems poised to retire with the franchise.

Smith restructured his contract this week after about two weeks of folks wondering, “will he stay or will he go?”

Harrison Smith Did ‘Harrison Smith Things’ on Thursday

Well, he preferred to stay, a beacon of loyalty and commitment to a single franchise. Smith reportedly agreed to a paycut from a $14.7 million base salary to $8 million. And this is different from last year when he and teammate Adam Thielen allowed the Vikings to merely “move money around,” the typical tactic used to free up cap space.

Harrison Smith Did
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Emulating running mate Chad Greenway of yesteryear, Smith will likely retire with the Vikings as the defender turned 34 last month. That’s already quite old for a safety, so 2023 or 2024 should be his last hurrah if history is a reasonable indicator.

Too, Smith will become the first Viking drafted in the 1st Round since Randall McDaniel to stay with the team for 12+ years. McDaniel was drafted in 1988; Smith in 2012. In fact, when Smith hits the field in 2023, he’ll join these Vikings players as the only 1st-Rounders drafted by the team to play 12+ seasons in purple:

? Chris Doleman
? Carl Eller
? Tommy Kramer
? Randall McDaniel
? Fred McNeill
? Mark Mullaney
? Alan Page
? Ron Yary

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Any list with Dolemans, Ellers, McDaniels, and Pages is guaranteed to inspire warm fuzzies and further evidence that Smith truly effectuated “Harrison Smith things” by accepting a pay reduction to return in 2023.

Plus, the Vikings need him. For now, the safety room comprises Smith, Lewis Cine, Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, and Theo Jackson. If Smith skedaddled, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would have to pound the pavement for a free-agent safety or choose one relatively high in April’s draft. For a team with just five draft picks on the menu as of March 16th, scouting an early-round safety could’ve invoked eyerolls, especially after Cine was the 1st-Rounder one year ago.

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On the long-term trajectory of Smith’s career, he’s bedfellows with Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu for performance. If Smith does not join the former Steelers great in Canton, only Super Bowl ring hardware will separate the two. Here’s the tale of the tape:

Harrison Smith has played in 159 games through 2022.

Through first 159 games of career —

Troy Polamalu:
783 Tackles
12 Sacks
32 INT
56 Tackles for Loss
14 Forced Fumbles
5 TDs

Harrison Smith:
946 Tackles
16.5 Sacks
34 INT
43 Tackles for Loss
9 Forced Fumbles
4 TDs

Image Courtesy of Harrison Smith on Instagram.

Finally, NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport tweeted about the Smith + Minnesota reunion, “Harrison Smith, a long-tenured Vikings star, had strong interest from elsewhere. But he wanted to stay home.”

“He wanted to stay home” is all you need to know about the man.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.