Harrison Smith will not be hitting the free agent market after the 2016 season because the Vikings just locked him up to a long-term deal. Online NFL odds already have the Vikings as one of the favorites to win the NFC North because of the moves they have made during the offseason.
The Vikings continued their strong offseason by announcing that they have signed Smith through the 2021 season. Smith who is considered one of the best safeties in the NFL, will become the highest paid safety when the deal kicks in.
On the team’s website, Smith said it was hard to describe his feelings about the new deal in words, but said he was happy to remain with the team that drafted him for the foreseeable future. Smith also said he was happy that he will be able to stick around to see the fruition of what the team has been building for the last few seasons.
According to reports, the new deal Smith signed is a five-year contract extension worth $51.25 million with $28.578 million of it guaranteed. The new salary will give Smith a $10.25 million annual salary, which will make him the highest paid safety in the NFL.
Smith, who was a first round pick by the Vikings in 2012, is entering his fifth season with the organization. The 27-year-old has excelled under the coaching of Mike Zimmer, who likes to put him in situations where he can pressure the offense.
After making 66 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions last year, Smith made it to his first Pro Bowl. One of the interceptions he made was returned for a touchdown, giving him a total of four interceptions returned for touchdowns in his career, which is a franchise record.
Smith, who is known as a hard hitter, accumulated 320 tackles, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 12 interceptions in his first four seasons in the NFL.
At the end of last season, Minnesota’s general manager Rick Spielman said he felt it was a priority to extend Smith’s contract. At the time, Spielman jokingly referred to Smith as one of the better defensive players in the NFL in hopes of keeping his asking price down.
During the contract negotiation, Smith always had confidence that a deal would eventually be worked out.
By signing Smith to an extension, Minnesota continued its recent trend of locking up younger players they feel have a high ceiling before their old contract is up, preventing them from leaving through free agency.
Some of the young players the team has locked up for the next few years are Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, and Brandon Fusco.
Now that Smith has been signed to a long-term contract, don’t expect his mindset to change. Immediately after he signed his new deal, Smith didn’t go and celebrate. Instead, he went down the hall to attend a team meeting.
After signing the deal, Smith also told the Vikings’ website that the fans in Minnesota are the best in the league and make it difficult for him to imagine playing in any other city. Smith also said that the Vikings organization was the best to be a part of, and he feels blessed that he gets to stay in Minnesota for a long time.