The Minnesota Vikings had to get creative to keep safety Harrison Smith on their roster next season, but the arrangement the team came to could cost them dearly in 2024. What the Vikings elected to do was a shrewd business decision wherein they made 2023 the last functional year of Smith’s contract by offsetting some of the money they were set to pay him into the next year of his deal, which is now set to void at the end of the season.
The team-friendly agreement helped take some of the strain off of the Vikings’ salary cap but comes with some concerning strings attached. It inflated Smith’s salary cap hit for 2024, and guarantees that they will part ways with him, even if only temporarily, after this season to keep their finances in order.
Smith’s loss will come at a steep price, too. The team will eat nearly $8 million in dead money cap space that they won’t be able to spend next year because of the structure of this new deal. This situation is similar to the one they found themselves in with linebacker Anthony Barr in 2021 which ultimately led to his departure.
While some may see this as folly, essentially using next year’s money to pay for this year’s luxury, the move was the only option that Minnesota had to keep their beloved safety on the roster without committing a disproportionate amount of money to him this season. Fans would certainly prefer that Smith stick around through the end of his career, but in the business of the modern NFL, teams can only do so much to out-maneuver the market to keep their star players.
Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire