Will Harrison Smith Return to the Vikings Next Season?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings can still make the playoffs, if they get a win in week 18 and a few other things go right, but if not, is it is it possible we see arguably the best safety in franchise history, Harrison Smith, play his last game in purple and gold on Sunday vs the Lions?

That’s a question a lot of fans and media members have been asking, being last weekend’s loss vs the Green Bay Packers was the Vikings’ final home game of 2023-24, thus the final home game for Smith’s career if he isn’t on the 2024-25 roster.

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Minnesota Vikings coaches want Harrison Smith back

Nobody knows for sure what Harrison’s future holds. Hell, he may not even know. But the Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and defensive coordinator, Brian Flores, have both made it clear they want him back.

“Harrison Smith is one of my all-time favorite players I’ve had the chance to be around as a coach. I feel very fortunate to have been in the head coach position with a guy like Harrison. I could speak unlimited about what Harrison means to so much and so many people.

I’m hoping it’s not, I’m hoping that this is not the end for him just because I selfishly want him around our team and around our defense and around our program because I think he makes each and every part of what I just said better and that’s what really defines great players in this league, and he certainly is one and has been one for a really long time.”

Kevin O’Connell on Monday

“He’s really been awesome to work with. I think he’s Hall of Fame worthy. He’s already kind of , I wouldn’t say cemented that, but there should certainly be some conversation around [his HOF status] whenever he decides to move forward. Hopefully it’s not anytime soon, I’ll put that out there right now.”

Brian Flores last week

Smith is under contract for next season but his cap hit is scheduled to be nearly $20 million, so that would need to be redone. His contract doesn’t appear to be an issue for either party, however.

Harrison Smith expected to choose between Vikings and retirement

Harrison took a paycut last offseason to stay, and if he wants to play again next season, it’s likely the money would be worked out with relative ease. Instead, the questions seems to revolve around whether or not Harry the Hitman plans to retire after the 2023-24 season.

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According to Ben Goessling (Star Tribune) on KFAN radio Tuesday morning, this season appears to have taken a bit of a toll on Harrison Smith and it’s likely he will need some time to make a decision about his future, when the rip cord on 2023-24 is officially pulled (whether that’s Sunday or after a miracle playoff appearance).

So if Harry wants to keep playing, the widely accepted assumption is that it’ll be with the Vikings. Will Brian Flores return? That could play big into his decision, given how much he’s enjoyed Flores’ approach and scheme.

Either way, it doesn’t sound like we’ll be getting a for sure answer anytime soon, adding yet another interesting wrinkle to the incoming offseason.

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