Vikings Suddenly Out of Salary Cap Hell… Harrison Smith Extension Still a No-Brainer

Minnesota defensive back Harrison Smith (22) gives a look after sacking San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) in the fourth quarter of an NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. The Vikings beat the 49ers, 24-16. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

The Vikings aren’t looking as salary cap poor as what’s been widely reported, even recently, proving the cap may actually be a myth. According to the two most trusted websites available for calculating such numbers, and, Spielman and Co. currently sit with $12M+ in available cap space for 2020, which is more than 14 other teams across the NFL

Yet, there’s still plenty that Rick and Rob [Brzezinski] could do to jog more cap dollars loose, including moves we’ve been talking about all offseason. Those blogs, articles and talking points all over the internet, have mostly centered around trading Anthony Harris, who is owed $11M+ if rostered for 2020 under his current franchise tag, OR cutting Riley Reiff, which would save $8.8M against the cap.

My Bleeding Purple podcast partner, Adam Patrick, wrote about this a couple of days ago over at and then we discussed it on today’s podcast episode (Below starting at the 14:15 mark)… There is one blatant cost-saving move still available for the Vikings that makes EXTREME sense: A Harrison Smith Contract extension.

A rare winner in Rob Brzezinski‘s salary cap game, Smith is due to pile up 2020 money that will total at slightly less ($10.75M) than his running mate (for now) Anthony Harris, because of the franchise tag we talked about above. However, Harrison holds a lot of power if the Vikings wanted to approach him for an extension that would save them money against the salary cap over the next couple of seasons.

Usually, when an aging player’s cap hit overwhelms the cost of cutting him (dead cap), Spielman and Co. like to hit guys with the classic “Hey, take less to help the team OR we’re going to have to cut you” game. Well, the Vikings would net a +8.72M by cutting Harrison Smith, which essentially puts him in a tie with Riley Reiff, for the biggest possible savings on roster. I can promise, however, that nobody’s having “extend/restructure or be cut” conversations with Harry “The Hitman” or his agent.

Instead, if extension conversations are happening, it’s The Hitman who has the upper hand in negotiations. Harry still has 2 seasons left on his current deal and he’s due to make over $20M during that time. Through the first 3 years, he’s made himself too valuable to cut… which doesn’t usually happen (which I mentioned above). If the Vikings want to trim down that $10M+ cap hit, the extension terms will need to be in Smith’s favor. Otherwise, what’s his motivation to get a deal done?

If you’re the Vikings, all of the facts above still apply. You’re sitting ok, with cap dollars still in-hand (somehow), BUT they still want the best safety in the league to remain on roster and updating your contract terms to help both parties only makes sense.

Giving Smith more guaranteed money over the next two years, will make him happy. If the Vikings can draw it up so they save money against the cap now, but have a decent out come 2023 (should age become a declining factor in his play), then the deal easily makes sense for all parties involved.

The NFL continues to stand steady on their schedule for next season… so the Vikings might as well get these house-cleaning items taken care of now, before people have stuff to do again. After you clear up some cash from The Hitman extension, you can get the Dalvin Cook deal done too. 

If Rick and Rob can get those things done and come out with $10M+ in available cap space, it leaves a lot of flexibility, especially should they decide Anthony Harris and/or Reilly Reiff are expendable.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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