As he entered the final year of his rookie contract, it was only a matter of time before the Minnesota Vikings signed safety Harrison Smith to a long-term contract extension. Monday morning, it became official.
#Vikings S Harrrison Smith signed a 5-year extension worth $51.25M source said. Full guarantee is $15.278M, total guarantees are $28.578M
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 6, 2016
Smith is now the highest-paid safety in the NFL, based on average annual value ($10.25 million), and he’s under contract through 2021 now. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season, with 66 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) in 13 games. In 2014, Smith had the best season of his career, with 92 total tackles, five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and three sacks in Mike Zimmer‘s first season as head coach.
There’s a strong argument that Smith is the best safety in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus backed that up by ranking him as their No. 2 overall safety for last season. Smith gets high grades in coverage and against the run, and he has blossomed as a versatile chess piece in Zimmer’s defense.
Under general manager Rick Spielman, the Vikings have established a history of signing young players they’ve developed to long-term contracts. Smith obviously fits that criteria at 27 years old and now in the fold in Minnesota through his age-32 season. His hard-hitting style brings durability concerns, as evidenced by 11 missed games over his first four seasons, but Smith will spend the remainder of his prime in a Vikings uniform, making Monday’s move look great for both sides.