Harrison Smith’s New Contract Features Amazing Details

Theory on Harrison
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In a tumultuous offseason, the Minnesota Vikings have had many questions to answer. So far, we know Kirk Cousins is no longer with the team, Danielle Hunter moved to Houston, and the Vikings will probably try to acquire a quarterback in the draft. Sam Darnold, Aaron Jones, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Jonathan Greenard are just four of many new Vikings.

Harrison Smith’s New Contract Features Amazing Details

There have been many changes in the last two months, but one thing has remained the same: Harrison Smith is on the team. The all-time great will play his 13th season in purple after pondering retirement following the disappointing 2023 campaign. It would’ve been totally understandable had he walked into the sunset at age 35. Safeties usually don’t play this long.

harrison smith
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Hitman just shrugged and decided to return for another year—well, at least another year. His updated contract includes some sweet details. Smith had an enormous cap hit in 2024, so the Vikings should’ve considered cutting him if he didn’t want to agree to a second consecutive pay cut. But he did. Ben Goessling from the StarTribune reported the particulars of the new deal:

The team reworked the six-time Pro Bowl selection’s contract for both 2024 and 2025, giving him a $7 million signing bonus to go with a $1.49 million base salary in 2024 and a $1.255 million base for 2025. The team added three void years to Smith’s deal that will save Minnesota $11.9 million of cap space in 2024 and $15.5 million in 2025.

Ben Goessling
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Those savings are enormous, and the purple team can invest the money into some other players to improve the roster in the 2024 season. Smith was drafted in the first round in 2012 in what turned out to be one of Rick Spielman’s best moves. The veteran has been with the team ever since, making him the longest-tenured Viking. He even increased his lead once Hunter exited. The closest is C.J. Ham, who joined in 2016.

One aspect of the reworked deal is that Smith could return on a similarly cheap salary next season if he wants to. They have already made the necessary adjustments; more negotiations aren’t required next offseason.

If Smith were to retire after the 2024 season, the Vikings would incur $5.6 million of dead money on their 2025 cap. If he were to play, he would do so on a cap number of $6.5 million, just $900,000 more than the dead money hit the Vikings would incur if he retires. Essentially, Smith’s 2024 restructure means the Vikings have little need to pursue another one in 2025. If he is deliberating after the season about whether to play in 2025, he won’t need to weigh whether he wants to negotiate with the Vikings on a contract again.

Ben Goessling

Smith has so much experience that the young guys on the defense benefit from sharing a locker room with him. With various leaders leaving in the last 13 months, having one older guy remaining is valuable.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

On the field, Smith is no longer the all-world player he used to be in his prime, but he can still play at a serviceable level and occasionally make game-changing plays like he did when he single-handedly wrecked the game against the Panthers last season. If he needed a breather or if defensive coordinator Brian Flores would want to limit his snaps to keep him fresh, the good news is that Minnesota employs Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus, two excellent safeties.

Smith will continue to play a vital role as a versatile player, something Flores needs in his defense. He and Flores are the perfect match because of his ability to cover the field deep as a free safety and his unique skills to be a disruptor in the box.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Smith has played in 176 regular-season games with the Vikes, collecting 34 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, four touchdowns, 19.5 sacks, and 1,039 tackles. His outstanding tenure with the organization will continue for at least one more season.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt