Harrison Smith Hints Aren’t Looking Good

Another Stunning
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Almost lost in the shuffle of the Minnesota Vikings’ pivotal offseason is Harrison Smith news — whether the six-time Pro Bowler retires, takes a paycut to stay in Minnesota, or ventures elsewhere to latch onto a Super Bowl contender.

The Plot Thickens on Harrison Smith News

Those feel like the only sensible options with free agency five days away, while Vikings fans monitor other big-ticket items like the free-agent statuses of Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter.

harrison smith news
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

According to KSTP‘s Darren Wolfson, retirement seems like the least likely option for Smith, 35, and the beloved Viking may be forced to decide on taking a pay reduction or hitting the open market. Smith faced a similar choice last year and remained in Minnesota.

Wolfson said this week on the Mackey and Judd Show about the Smith retirement angle, “At this point, I’ll be surprised. So, let’s go on the idea that he’s playing a 13th season. Well, we know it can’t be at his current number. Cap hit of nearly $20 million, base salary of $14 million and change. For him to play for the Vikings in 2024, we know he’ll have to take another pay cut. He took a pretty decent paycut a year ago. To me, he’d have to take an even bigger paycut, so we will see how that remains to be seen how that plays out. I’m just saying, I’d be pretty darn surprised if he just walks away.”

Image Courtesy of Vikings.com. Strong safety Harrison Smith was shown wearing the Minnesota Viking’s new alternate uniforms on July 18, 2023, via stream event. Minnesota will wear the uniforms on September 10th, 2023, at home versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Since joining the NFL in 2012, Smith ranks first among all defensive backs in tackles, first in QB hits, first in interceptions, second in sacks, and second in tackles for loss. Releasing Smith would save the Vikings $15.3 million if the measure were marked with a post-June 1st designation.

Wolfson also opined on Smith’s motivation and left the door open for him to join another team this offseason, “Yeah, he’s not one to be chasing the cash. But chasing a ring? Wanting to win at the highest level possible and, truly, is he going to do that here in 2024? So, I wouldn’t dismiss that. Yes, he does love it here. He loves playing for Brian Flores. Brian Flores loves him. But can he win at the level he wants to win at here in 2024. That, to me, is the question to ponder — not whether or not he is going to retire.”

We Seen
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith addressed retirement in January, right after the Vikings’ season formally ended. “Whenever I retire, I’m not going to tell you. 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,” Smith told reporters.

The decision may also hinge on the Vikings’ quarterback preference. If Minnesota re-ups with the aforementioned Cousins — a big if as of early March — perhaps Smith will remain in Minnesota for a 13th season. Conversely, one must wonder if he has the time for a rookie quarterback’s development.

Mike Zimmer Press Conference | Dallas Cowboys 2024. Zimmer took over as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in February 2024 when Dan Quinn accepted a head coaching job with the Washington Commanders. Zimmer coached the Vikings from 2014 to 2021.

Smith added about his future two months ago, “I’ve been at peace for a while. When I was a kid, I never thought I’d play in the NFL. To have a career I’ve had to this point, it’s pretty cool. Got to play with a lot of great people, a lot of great players and coaches. Lot of struggle, a lot of ups and downs. It’s kind of what makes it so fun, too. Sorry I don’t have anymore info.”

Keep an eye on the Dallas Cowboys as a possible landing spot if Smith is released. Mike Zimmer is the new defensive coordinator on Mike McCarthy’s team, and Smith + Zimmer paired for eight years in Minnesota.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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