Harrison Smith

NFC Rumors: DGB, E. Thomas, H. Smith

Dorial Green-Beckham, whom the Eagles acquired in a mid-August trade last year, believes Philadelphia has not seen him at his best. After all, he had to learn a new offense on the fly after the trade, and then he had to adjust to a new starting quarterback a few weeks later. But as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, DGB has an uphill battle just to make the team, let alone make a major impact. The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, they spent mid-round draft choices on Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson, and Jordan Matthews looks to remain with the club after being the subject of offseason trade rumors. All five of those players are roster locks, which means that Green-Beckham will battle former first-round selection Nelson Agholor — whom the Eagles have more of a commitment to from a salary and draft standpoint — for the final wide receiver spot. So, barring injury or a transcendent training camp, DGB’s days in Philadelphia could be numbered.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Steve Wyche of NFL.com reports that Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken left left leg, and head coach Pete Carroll has no doubts that Thomas will be at full speed in training camp. WR Tyler Lockett, who is also recovering from a broken leg, is not as far along as Thomas, but Carroll indicated that Locket is still “on schedule.”
  • The Giants signed D.J. Fluker this offseason to help bolster an offensive line that was a major weakness last season. Fluker, whom the Chargers drafted as a tackle, shifted inside to guard over the past couple of seasons, but it was expected that he could at least compete for the Giants’ right tackle job this summer. But the Associated Press reports that Bobby Hart has manned right tackle during OTAs, which has relegated Fluker to John Jerry‘s backup at right guard.
  • The Lions recently signed former division-rival Matt Asiata to complement their running back corps, but barring an injury, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press does not see Asiata making the team. Birkett expects Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington to be the Lions’ running backs, in that order, and he does not believe there is room for a fifth RB, even without a fullback.
  • Vikings star safety Harrison Smith says his ankle is fully healed and is now a non-issue, per the Associated Press.
  • Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune reports that Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is expected to return to Minnesota today, to visit his eye doctors tomorrow, and if all goes well, he will be coaching OTAs on Tuesday (Twitter links).

NFC Rumors: Vikings, Zeke, Roseman, Cards

Harrison Smith underwent ankle surgery in February but is expected to be ready for training camp. The Vikings‘ top defensive back is ahead of schedule in his recovery from the left ankle operation, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but the team is expected to be cautious with him this offseason. A high ankle sprain hampered Smith toward the end of last season, and although the Pro Bowl defender returned for the Vikings’ final two games after missing two in December, a corrective procedure became necessary. A source informed Tomasson that Smith opted for surgery after playing on the injured ankle in the Pro Bowl led to it “getting worse.” Smith will enter the first season of his five-year, $51.25MM contract in 2017.

Here’s more from the NFC.

  • Jerry Jones acknowledged the Ezekiel Elliott video that emerged via TMZ last month is “not good.” The video shows the Cowboys running back lowering a woman’s top on a float at a Dallas St. Patrick’s Day parade. “There is not much that I want to say other than that was unfortunate and not good,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News,” Jones said. “It wouldn’t be the right emphasis one way or the other to get into any communications or dialogue since that happened. … I wouldn’t want to say on communication, but I’m aware of the incident and I’m aware of the criticism.” Representatives of the 21-year-old Elliott expect him to be cleared of wrongdoing in a 2016 domestic violence case, but this incident adds to a growing list of off-the-field drama for the talented back.
  • The Rams did not pursue T.J. McDonald or Case Keenum in free agency, according to the Los Angeles Times. An impending eight-game suspension reduced interest in McDonald, who landed with the Dolphins. Keenum signed with the Vikings.
  • Howie Roseman‘s given more power over the Eagles‘ draft board to VP of player personnel Joe Douglas than he did previous lieutenants Ryan Grigson or Tom Gamble, Jeff McLane of Philly.com writes. “The draft is going to be really built by Joe,” Jeffrey Lurie said, via McLane, before adding “the final decision will be made by Howie.” This will be Douglas’ first draft with the Eagles after landing in Philadelphia last May. McLane writes this will take some of the prospect-evaluation burden off of Roseman.
  • The Cardinals do not look set to add any notable help at either running back or wide receiver. Bruce Arians said (via Kent Somers of AZCentral.com) the team is content with what it has there. The fifth-year Cardinals coach noted Kerwynn Williams can be the No. 2 back behind David Johnson, and the coach expects a healthier season from John Brown. Somers notes depth pieces could come via lower-round picks or UDFAs, but it appears Arizona will address other positions with its higher draft picks.
  • Tim Hightower‘s 49ers deal is a one-year agreement, according to Nick Shook of NFL.com. The former Cardinals, Redskins and Saints back will turn 31 in May.

Vikings’ Harrison Smith May Miss Rest Of Year

Vikings safety Harrison Smith will miss Sunday’s game against the Jaguars while dealing with a high ankle sprain, and the possibility exists that Harrison could miss the remainder of the season, a source tells Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.Harrison Smith (Vertical)

[RELATED: Minnesota Vikings Depth Chart]

Smith could need surgery at some point, but for now, team doctors will evaluate him on a weekly basis and assess his condition. Smith, who was originally injured in the Minnesota’s November 20 game against the Cardinals and has aggravated the issue in two contests since, has a grade three sprain, the most serious form of the ailment, per Tomasson. Smith could potentially return late in the regular season, but that decision will likely be affected by the Vikings’ playoff position (the club currently sits at 6-6, second place in the NFC North).

Smith, 27, is one of the premier safeties in the NFL, and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2015. Signed to a five-year, $51.25MM extension prior to 2016 that made him the third-highest paid safety in the league, Smith has continued to produce, starting all 12 games while posting 64 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and two passes defensed. Pro Football Focus currently grades Smith as the No. 7 safety in the NFL among 89 qualifiers.

Poor injury luck has hit the Vikings harder than any other NFL club, but most of those issues have come on the offensive side of the ball, where Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, Mike Harris, Jake Long, and others have been lost for most (or all) of the season. Minnesota’s defense has been more stable, but could struggle to uphold its No. 6 DVOA ranking with Smith sidelined.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Sign Harrison Smith To Extension

WEDNESDAY, 5:04pm: Smith’s deal actually appears to be worth more than initially reported, with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle noting (on Twitter) the fifth-year safety’s pact totals $56.53MM. The deal contains $28.58MM in guarantees, per Wilson. The contract is slated to slot Harrison on the Vikings’ next five salary caps at $7.28MM in 2017, $7.5MM in ’18, $10MM in ’19, $10.75MM in ’20 and $10.25MM in ’21, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter). Only $500K is fully guaranteed to the now-27-year-old Smith on the third day of the 2019 league year, Vensel tweets.

MONDAY, 8:00am: The Vikings have signed safety Harrison Smith to a long-term extension, the club announced today. It’s a five-year deal worth $51.25MM, according to Andrew Krammer of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link), and the pact includes includes a $10MM signing bonus and $15.27MM fully guaranteed, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). With five years added to his present deal, Smith is now under contract for another six years on a deal that should keep him in Minnesota through the 2021 season."<strong

Smith, who earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2015, will earn a base salary of $5.278MM in 2016 before his significant pay raise kicks in. With an average annual value above $10MM, the Vikings are paying Smith more than any other safety, putting him ahead of names like Jairus Byrd, Devin McCourty, and Earl Thomas.

The deal’s full guarantee of $15MM+ puts him in the middle of that pack for safeties, beating out Thomas’ $14.225MM true guarantee but falling short of McCourty’s $22MM and Byrd’s $18.3MM. In terms of total value and AAV, however, we have ourselves a new highest-paid safety in the NFL.

Referring to Smith as one of the “better safeties” in the NFL earlier this year, Vikings GM Rick 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. NFL executive Randall Liu (on Twitter) notes that Smith is only NFL player since 2012 with 300+ tackles (311), 5+ sacks (5.5), 10+ interceptions (12), and a 4+ interception/touchdown ratio.

It will be interesting to see how Smith’s new contract impacts contract talks in Miami between the Dolphins and safety Reshad Jones. Jones is reportedly mulling a season-long holdout if he does not get a new deal that puts him in the same class as Smith and the rest of the ~$10MM club. Jones had a career-year in 2015, compiling career-highs in tackles (135), passes defended (10), and interceptions (five). At the same time, strong safeties generally don’t get paid the way that free safeties do. Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Berry also surely took notice of Smith’s new deal this morning. New deals for either one of those players could strip the “highest-paid safety” mantle away from the Vikings star.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Smith, Panthers, Short

Harrison Smith got a big deal with the Vikings on Monday in part due to his agent’s familiarity with the Minnesota brass, Ben Goessling of ESPN.com writes. The agent likened his relationship with the Vikings to the give-and-take of marriage.

When you first do a negotiation with a new person, you’re very careful in everything you say. You don’t give up an inch until you know you can get an inch back. It’d be like in marriage, you don’t say you’re going to take out the trash on Thursdays unless you know they’ll load the dishwasher on Fridays,” Brian Murphy said. “As you negotiate more and more deals, my whole philosophy is, there’s no room for bluffing. There’s certainly no room for lying. … I think that (Vikings VP of football operations) Rob [Brzezinski] is very, very good in that, in terms of saying what he means. And we say what we mean. But it takes a couple negotiations to realize, ‘Hey, when he said this, he really does mean this.'”

Murphy also represents John Sullivan, who has done two deals beyond his rookie contract. Kyle Rudolph, who signed a five-year deal in 2014, is also a Murphy client, as is Everson Griffen, who got $42.5MM over five years from Minnesota after the 2013 season. 2014 first-round pick Trae Waynes is also repped by Murphy and he could be the latest to add to the ~$180MM worth of deals that GM Rick Speilman has inked with Murphy guys.

Right now, it seems to be a happy marriage between the safety and the Vikings. Smith will earn more per year than any other safety in the NFL while the Vikings have the star locked down for years to come.

Here’s more out of the NFC:

  • Panthers coach Ron Rivera has repeatedly said that he wasn’t concerned by the absence of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short during OTAs, but David Newton of ESPN.com is confident that both he and GM Dave Gettleman are irked by it. “The thing I appreciate, for most part, everybody has told me what’s been going on with the exception of one person,” said Rivera, who was very possibly referring to the defensive tackle. Short’s 11 sacks last season were tied for the most by anyone at his position. He is currently scheduled to count for just $1.473MM against the 2016 cap.
  • Ryan Kalil‘s extension with the Panthers calls for him to make $13.25MM in 2016 instead of the originally planned $7.75MM, but he’ll make just $3.75MM in ’17, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That affordable salary pretty much secures his ’17 roster spot, he adds. Following the extension, Kalil’s cap numbers are as follows (Twitter link via Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer): $11.83MM in 2016, $5.33MM in 2017, and $5.78MM in 2018.
  • If former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh got his way, the 49ers would have drafted Julio Jones, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. Recently, Harbaugh (now the coach at Michigan), caused a stir when he was spotted wearing a Jones jersey at a satellite camp. “I’ve always had a ton of respect for Julio Jones,” Harbaugh said in this video on Scout.com. “When I was with the San Francisco 49ers, we were hoping to draft Julio. Always have had tremendous respect for him, competed against him. … I’m just a big fan of a lot of pe0ple. And I’m a jersey guy. I like jerseys.”

Extra Points: Megatron, Hackenberg, Vikings

NFL fans were a bit surprised when Lions star wideout Calvin Johnson announced that he’d be hanging up his cleats. However, his quarterback could tell that the 30-year-old was growing tired of the game.

“Not to say that I expected it, but I wasn’t shocked,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I’ve known Calvin for seven years and know the effort and the attitude that he plays with, and it takes a toll on people. And he was catching quite a few passes and getting hit quite a bunch, and so it takes a toll. And he’s a guy that from an offensive standpoint was touching the ball or carrying the ball just as much as anybody. So I knew the NFL was kind of wearing on him and I just told him, when he told me he was done, I just told him, ‘I’m happy for you if you’re happy.’ And that’s what you want. He’s a guy that gave everything to the game and you want him to be able to walk out on his own terms and feel like he did the right thing.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • “Quality” quarterbacks can be found towards the end of the first round, leading Paola Boivin of AZCentral.com to write that the Cardinals should select a signal-caller with their first selection in this year’s draft. Boivin believes it’s “vital” to have somebody in the wings, regardless of how long Carson Palmer continues to play.
  • Former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg showed flashes of brilliance playing under former coach Bill O’Brien, but he struggled under the guidance of replacement James Franklin. While the connections are undeniable, NFL scouts were still hoping for some accountability from the prospect, something he failed to deliver. Robert Klemko of SI.com writes that Hackenberg blamed his lack of recent success to the change in coaching staffs. “Despite the fact that it’s probably true, you don’t want to hear a kid say that,” one source said.
  • The Vikings next big deal should be locking up safety Harrison Smith to a long-term contract, writes Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune. However, based on recent years, the writer doesn’t believe we’ll see any progress until training camp.

 

NFC North Notes: H. Smith, Lions, Packers

It looks like a matter of when, not if, standout safety Harrison Smith will sign an extension with the Vikings, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Wolfson hears that talks between the two sides are expected to pick up before the end of the month.

Smith, 27, is entering the final year of his contract and is coming off his first Pro Bowl season. So far this offseason, most of the new deals signed by noteworthy safeties – including Malcolm Jenkins, Tashaun Gipson, Rodney McLeod, and George Iloka – have ranged from $6-9MM per year, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Smith exceed all of those when he eventually re-ups with the Vikings.

Here’s more from around the NFC North:

  • Free agent wide receiver and return man Jordan Norwood is paying a visit to the Lions today, per Mike Klis of 9NEWS (Twitter link). Norwood, who visited the Jets earlier this week, appeared in 11 regular-season games for the Broncos last season, amassing 22 receptions and 11 returns — he also set a new record for the longest punt return in a Super Bowl (61 yards).
  • With Russell Okung headed to Denver, the Lions may have to address the left tackle position via trade or in the draft, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Riley Reiff is currently penciled in as the starter, but some in the organization feel he’s better suited to play right tackle, and he’s only under contract for one more season anyway.
  • Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com offers one reason why Packers GM Ted Thompson may be mostly avoiding free agency in 2016, suggesting that Green Bay will need plenty of cap space a year from now for potential free agents like David Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton, and others.

Vikings GM Expects To Extend Harrison Smith

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.Harrison Smith

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.

NFC Notes: Brindza, Panthers, H. Smith

Buccaneers kicker Kyle Brindza had a rough day on Sunday, missing an extra point and three field goals as his team fell to the Texans by 10 points. However, head coach Lovie Smith stressed that the Bucs are sticking with Brindza, and don’t plan on auditioning any potential replacements this week, writes Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

“No. Kyle is our kicker,” Smith said. “He, like a lot of us, had a disappointing day. That hasn’t been the case. You’re going to have off days, and this was an off day.”

Here are a few more Monday odds and ends from around the NFC:

  • Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) believes that the Panthers will eventually get cornerback Josh Norman locked up to an extension, though it will likely require an offer of $10MM+ per year, and will probably have to wait until the offseason. Norman reportedly turned down a contract offer worth about $7MM annually prior to the regular season.
  • Person (Twitter links) also passes along a pair of injury updates from Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who says defensive end Charles Johnson has a hamstring issue and linebacker Thomas Davis has a pectoral injury. While Rivera doesn’t believe the Davis injury is serious, he says Johnson could be out for multiple weeks, and the club may look for outside help on the defensive line (Twitter links).
  • After picking up his fifth-year option for 2016, the Vikings decided to wait on signing safety Harrison Smith to a contract extension. As Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press observes (via Twitter), Smith’s price tag appears to be on the rise — through three weeks, the Vikings safety easily has the highest Pro Football Focus grade (+9.4) of anyone at the position.
  • Despite the Lions‘ offensive struggles so far this year, head coach Jim Caldwell hasn’t given consideration to taking over playcalling duties from OC Joe Lombardi, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

North Notes: Browns, H. Smith, Steelers

The 2015 season will likely be a redshirt year for rookie cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Browns head coach Mike Pettine said on Wednesday, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. At one point, Ekpre-Olomu, who continues to recover from a serious knee injury, was viewed as a potential first-round pick, but Cleveland snagged him in the seventh round in May following his torn ACL and disclocated knee. The Browns will have to wait until the end of training camp to move the Oregon alum to injured reserve if they want to avoid the risk of losing him on waivers.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s two North divisions: