Harrison Smith Addresses Retirement Chatter

Harrison Smith Wins
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

This could be the end; it’ll be a wait-and-see indefinitely.

That’s the word regarding Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith, as the purple team’s season ended on Sunday with a 30-20 loss at Ford Field.

Harrison Smith Addresses Retirement Chatter

Smith, selected by the Vikings in Round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft, will turn 35 next month, and only a few safeties continue playing at that age and beyond.

Smith Addresses
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The beloved Viking is also on deck for a $19.2 million cap hit in 2024 — a similar situation the Vikings faced in 2023 with Adam Thielen before releasing him — a number probably too rich for the salary cap. In the next several weeks, Vikings fans will ponder Smith’s fate in a “retire or paycut” capacity.

Smith addressed retirement on Sunday, although his synopsis wasn’t crystal clear. “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 as the Vikings’ season concluded.

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The Vikings’ defense encountered a whirlwind 2023 campaign, and Smith was a versatile component. The group played poorly to start, great in the middle, and awful down the stretch:

Vikings Defense,
Per EPA/Play,
NFL Ranking,

First 3 Games = 26th
Middle 10 Games = 1st
Last 4 Games = 31st

1 Viking Significantly More
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith added about his future, “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.”

In 12 seasons, Smith has tabulated six Pro Bowl and two All-Pro nods. If this is it for Smith, he’ll go down as one of the best safeties in Vikings history and earn his name on the Ring of Honor at U.S. Bank Stadium before long. He’ll also command fringe Hall of Fame consideration.

The Minnesota Vikings Are Super Bowl Contenders
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Last year, Smith accepted a paycut, and if he wants to remain in Minnesota, a similar arrangement could be on deck. Otherwise, if he isn’t ready to walk away but doesn’t want to renegotiate, the Vikings could release Smith, as they did with longtime veterans like Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and Dalvin Cook last offseason.

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.

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.