Safety Harrison Smith Takes Pay Cut to Stay with the Vikings

The Vikings Can Eliminate Their Salary Cap Debt with 1 Move
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) looks on prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings fans will be happy about this one. According to reports by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert as well as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Minnesota Vikings and safety Harrison Smith have agreed to a new contract that will keep Smith with the team in 2023.

Following Seifert’s initial report of a new agreement, Rapoport followed up with the contract details. The new contract will pay Smith $8 million with $2 million in incentives for the 2023 season. Heading into this offseason, Smith’s base salary was set to be $14.7 million in 2023, so this move saves the Vikings $6.7 million in cap space based on those numbers.

Smith has been the heart and soul of the Vikings defense for over a decade now after being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Minnesota. He immediately jumped into a starting role for the Vikings during that year, and that is where he’s remained ever since.

Safety Harrison Smith
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Through his first 11 seasons with the Vikings, Smith has appeared in 159 games, with 158 of them being starts. In that time, he’s recorded 946 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, 83 passes defended, 34 interceptions (tied for the most among all active players), 9 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries, and 4 defensive touchdowns.

This deal keeps one of the fan-favorite Vikings in a purple jersey after seeing so many of these longtime Vikings see their time in Minnesota come to an end. Even more importantly, though, it also ensures that the safety position is not a big need for the Vikings this offseason. Smith’s veteran presence can continue to help mold the younger players like Cam Bynum, Lewis Cine, and Josh Metellus.

Questions Answered: Contingency Plan for Hitman, Pleasant Surprise, Reagor's Usage
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Additionally, we could see the Hitman be a major piece of Brian Flores’ scheme in 2023. Smith is a terrific blitzer and should see that part of his game utilized in a number of ways by the new defensive coordinator. This is a big win for the Vikings.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. 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.