The Minnesota Vikings and safety Harrison Smith have agreed to terms on a new contract that will keep the veteran defender with the team for the 2023 season, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said Thursday morning.
Smith was due to receive $15.3 million in cash for 2023 and count $19.1 million against the salary cap, figures that put Smith's spot on the team in jeopardy. He recently turned 34, missed three games last season because of two different injuries and had seen the Vikings use their top pick in the 2022 draft to select a possible replacement in Georgia's Lewis Cine.
Cine suffered a season-ending left leg injury as a rookie but is on pace to make a full recovery for the 2023 season.
The Vikings gave Smith permission to seek other opportunities around the league as he considered a reduced contract offer. Ultimately, the source said, Smith spurred the interest he encountered and decided to take the Vikings' deal and return for a 12th season with the team. In so doing, he accepted a pay cut of just under 50% to about $8 million for the 2023 season, before incentives.
His return will help the Vikings transition from a veteran core to a younger group of players that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah began to employ this offseason. The team has parted ways with four 2022 starters -- linebacker Eric Kendricks, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler -- and linebacker Za'Darius Smith's future remains uncertain.
Harrison Smith matched his career high with five interceptions last season but his effectiveness was limited in a scheme that utilized him mostly as a deep safety. Newly hired defensive coordinator Brian Flores is likely to use him in a more nuanced role while playing to his strengths as a blitzer and playmaker near the line of scrimmage.