The Minnesota Vikings were probably the second-worst team in the NFL on Sunday. Luckily, they played the Jacksonville Jaguars, who happened to be the worst team. Still, you shouldn’t need almost all of overtime and a Harrison Smith miracle interception to beat the league’s worst team on any given Sunday.
But… my sources tell me that there will not be an asterisk next to this victory in the “W” column.
Let’s talk about Harrison Smith
Sure, there will be a lot of talk about Harrison Smith tonight, after he picked this ball off and helped save the Vikings’ season. Admittedly, that’s what sparked me to write this blog… But we’ve been glossing over Smith’s greatness all season and that stops right now.
The Vikings have the best safety in the NFL and he wears #22. I don’t care how old he is (not that old) and I don’t care how white he is (really white). This man is dealing with a new group of cornerbacks, which has forced Zimmer to play an entirely different coverage scheme in 2020, from what we’ve seen in recent years.
The changes have affected both safeties but Anthony Harris has looked like a shell of himself at times this season. According to PFF, the two Vikings safeties have graded out as the NFL’s best from 2017-2019, Smith edging Harris by 00.1 points. In 2020, however, Harrison Smith has dropped down to #17 and Anthony Harris…. to #51.
2020 PFF safety grades:— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) December 6, 2020
#17: Harrison Smith
#51: Anthony Harris https://t.co/JiPRzjeowH
Stats don’t lie.
If it weren’t for websites like PFF trying to tell us that Harrison Smith has slipped a little bit… I’m not sure anyone would be thinking it. As long as zebras aren’t flagging Smith for unnecessary roughness, he’s looked like the same old Harry..
Today’s interception in overtime put Smith’s 2020 total at 4. His career-high is 5 and he’s done it twice (2014, 2017). The Notre Dame alum is also on track to make more tackles than he has since 2016 and, at (almost) 32 years old, the stats say “Harry the Hitman” is having a career year.
|**2020||12 (16)||4 (5.3)||63 (89.3)||2 (2.6)||4 (5.3)||0.5 (0.7)|
Harry needs a new contract
Because he is (almost) 32 years old, there’s been some whispers about trading Harrison Smith over the last few months. That all looks foolish, at this point. Instead, his contract now looks ripe to be re-upped.
According to Spotrac.com, he still has one season left on his current deal and is contracted to make $10.25 million for those 16 games. ZERO of those dollars are guaranteed, however, and all of them count against the 2020 Minnesota Vikings’ salary cap.
It’s a perfect opportunity for Rob Brzezinski to go to work with Smith’s agent on a new deal that relieves some of his $10.25M cap hit, while securing a bunch of guaranteed $$$ on the front end for #22.
It’s what those in the salary-cap business would call a “win-win”. The dollars shouldn’t be that difficult to come together on, given his salary is already #6 among NFL safeties.
I’d all but guarantee we see Harrison Smith play under an brand-new contract in 2021 and the future HOF deserves it.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan