Harrison Smith Shares All Regarding His Offseason Decision to Stay in Minnesota for 2023
This offseason, there was speculation regarding the status of a number of the Vikings veteran players heading into 2023. This resulted in the departures of long-time starters Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen and could still end Dalvin Cook’s tenure in Minnesota.
However, one veteran that was speculated to potentially leave Minnesota is officially locked into the 2023 roster. That veteran is safety Harrison Smith who opted to take a pay cut this offseason which lowered his 2023 base salary from $14.7 million to $8 million.
This is just the latest example of Smith proving that he is all about staying with the Vikings throughout his entire career, and on Tuesday, the veteran safety shared everything via a press conference regarding this offseason decision to stay in Minnesota.
First and foremost, Smith attributed the hire of Brian Flores as a big reason why he stayed. Right at the opening of the presser he spoke on the new Vikings defensive coordinator, saying, “[I’ve] always been kind of interested in…his style, who he learned from, what he’s thinking during games, and how they have matched things over the years…honestly, that was a big draw in staying here, getting to learn from him,” Smith said.
Interestingly, though, staying in Minnesota was not a foregone conclusion for the 11-year veteran. It makes sense that Smith was considering other options especially with the money that he gave up in order to stay with the Vikings organization for a 12th season. Here is what he had to say in regards to what went into looking at other teams:
“I thought about it, for sure. I’ve kind of, I mean, human nature kind of [leads you to] think about other things and other places,” Smith said.
With that said, though, Smith continued to state why he felt staying in Minnesota was the correct decision for him.
“I’d say Flo’ was a big reason. I wouldn’t say it was one thing, like, you definitely have to appreciate what the Wilfs have done with the Vikings and the leadership they have, kind of the investment that they have with the franchise and the community, and being a part of the community… I kind of grew up here, in a sense, so there’s like tangible things I’ve thought about and intangible things, and they all kind of added up to I wanted to stay here and give it another crack.”
Assuming Smith does play out his 12th NFL season with the Vikings in 2023, it will mean that he’s spent nearly a third of his 34 years of life in Minnesota since being drafted with the 29th overall pick back in 2012, so he certainly has spent much of his adult life in this community.
The question that remains, though, is exactly how much longer Smith will play, not only with the Vikings, but in the NFL in general. Towards the end of this press conference, the safety shared his thoughts on where he’s at with his future and how likely he was to play in 2023.
“I don’t know how to put a percentage on that, either, but it creeps in, for sure, and it’s not the first year I’ve thought about it. You can’t play forever, you know, and it’s a big world out there. There’s a lot of things going on, so it’s fun to think about trying to dabble in some things here and there, but I can still run alright, and I still catch the ball pretty well.”
Smith describing his ability to catch the ball as ‘pretty well’ may go down as the understatement of the year, seeing as the safety tied his career-high for interceptions in 2022 with five. It was the second time since 2020 he’s accomplished that feat, and it was the fourth time in his illustrious career.
If 2023 ends up being the ‘last hurrah’ for Smith, it will have been an outstanding career for the safety, and he will have done just about everything he can do as a player with six Pro Bowl appearances and an All-Pro selection under his belt. His 34 interceptions rank second among all active players and fifth all-time for the Minnesota Vikings franchise. He’s also lived up to his nickname as the ‘Hitman’, ranking fourth in Vikings history in solo tackles with 706.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.
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