Advertisement

Harrison Smith will return to the Vikings after agreeing to a pay cut

Harrison Smith is back for a 13th season with the Vikings.

The team announced on Wednesday afternoon it agreed to a restructured deal with the six-time Pro Bowler to keep him in Minnesota for the 2024 season. Smith, who turned 35 in February, had said after the Vikings' final game of the season he needed to take some time to consider whether he wanted to play another in the NFL, smirking as he told reporters, "Whenever I retire, I'm not going to tell you. You'll figure it out."

That retirement is at least a year away now. For the second year in a row, Smith agreed to take a pay cut to save salary cap space for the Vikings; a source with knowledge of the situation said Smith will make $9 million instead of the $14.45 million he'd been scheduled to earn in 2024.

Coach Kevin O'Connell and defensive coordinator Brian Flores had openly campaigned for Smith's return at the end of the 2023 season, hoping to bring back the Vikings' longest-tenured player for another year in a defense that used three safeties almost constantly. Though Smith finished without an interception for the first time in his career, he matched his career high with three sacks, posting all of them in a Week 4 win over Carolina that he helped seal with two sacks of Bryce Young on the Panthers' final three offensive plays.S

Smith will be counted on for leadership in a locker room that lost Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter and Jordan Hicks in free agency, and he will get a second season in a defensive scheme he enjoyed in 2023. He will also continue his career with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2012. Smith ranks second among active players with 34 career interceptions, trailing only former teammate Patrick Peterson, who has 36.

Smith needs three interceptions to match Vikings Ring of Honor member Joey Browner for fourth in team history, and needs only a half-sack to become the first defensive back in team history with 20 in his career. Whenever he does retire, his addition to the team's Ring of Honor seems like only a matter of time.

For 2024, though, Smith decided there's more to do with the only team he's played for.