Vikings safety Harrison Smith has played four years on his rookie deal, and is under contract for one more year due a fifth-year option. However, general manager Rick Spielman doesn’t expect Smith to be playing in a contract year in 2016, indicating today that he anticipates getting an extension done for the safety sometime in the not-too-distant future, according to Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
Referring to Smith as one of the “better safeties” in the NFL, Spielman acknowledged with a chuckle that calling him one of the “best” might increase his price. Pro Football Focus, at least, viewed the 27-year-old as the league’s best safety in 2015, ranking him atop the site’s list of 88 qualified players at the position, despite the fact that he only played 13 games. Among safeties, Smith ranked in PFF’s top 10 in terms of pass coverage, run defense, and pass rush grades.
Smith, who earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2015, is set to earn a base salary of $5.278MM in 2016. Any new deal figures to pay him an average annual salary worth much more than that. If the Vikings are willing to pay Smith like one of the NFL’s best safeties, that could mean per-year earnings in the $9-10MM range — Jairus Byrd, Devin McCourty, and Earl Thomas are all making salaries in that neighborhood, per Over the Cap. If Smith were to exceed $10MM per year, he’d surpass Thomas as the league’s highest-paid safety.
While a looming extension for Smith was perhaps the most noteworthy nugget that Spielman dropped today, he made a few more comments worth passing along, so let’s dive in…
- Spielman indicated that 2016 will be a pivotal season for Cordarrelle Patterson to show he can be a wide receiver, which suggests Patterson will have a spot on the Vikings’ roster in the fall, tweets Goessling.
- The Vikings don’t plan on bringing in any competition for kicker Blair Walsh, whose missed field goal on Wild Card weekend cost Minnesota a chance to beat the Seahawks and advance in the postseason (Twitter link via Goessling).
- Defensive back Terence Newman doesn’t have a contract for 2016, and would be the NFL’s oldest defensive player if he decides not to retire, but Spielman believes Newman wants to play this year. As Goessling tweets, the GM added that he thinks Newman is a cornerback, not a safety.