Harrison Smith has landed another lucrative deal with the only NFL team he's ever known.
Smith and the Vikings have agreed to a four-year, $64 million extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. In the new deal, Smith will receive $22.5 million in the next eight months, the highest in NFL history for a safety. The extension will also pay him an average of $15.3 million per year from 2022-2024, and includes $26.38 million in guaranteed money.
With the year remaining on his existing deal included, Smith's current contract will be for five years and a total of $74.83 million.
At 32 years old, Smith is no spring chicken, but it's clear the Vikings still value him very much. A trying 2020 season for Minnesota's defense saw Smith's worst individual defensive overall grade in his career, per Pro Football Focus, but only by a couple of points, while many of his supplementary grades weren't far off his usual rate. Smith still played in all 16 games, recorded 10 passes defensed, and tied a career-high for interceptions with five. And while the Vikings couldn't count on much else (other than the contributions of Eric Kendricks), they knew what they had in No. 22.
Such an extension at 32 might seem perplexing, but as the Vikings attempt to turn their defense back into the force it was not too long ago, they've demonstrated they want Smith playing an important part in such an effort. And frankly, this extension can be both perplexing and understandable at the same time. On paper, a four-year extension for a 32-year-old not playing quarterback might seem unwise, but we aren't in Rick Spielman's chair, from which the GM has seen Smith ascend to a five-time Pro Bowler and 2017 first-team All-Pro.
It's not too often a team finds a way to keep one of its heroes through the entirety of a long career. We're not putting an expiration date on Smith's time in the NFL, but if he manages to play well enough through the majority of this extension, Sunday's news makes it much more likely he one day hangs it up as a career-long Viking.