EAGAN, Minn. — The Hitman is staying home.
Harrison Smith will remain with the Vikings and begin preparing for his 12th season in Purple, Smith and the team announced Thursday after the parties agreed on a contract restructure.
The six-time Pro Bowler's amazing tenure with Minnesota has included 158 starts, a Vikings franchise record at the position (topped 150 by Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Krause). It also has featured a franchise-record four interception return touchdowns.
As the Vikings have made several moves this month to become compliant with the salary cap, some speculated that Smith might wind up being released.
Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson tweeted that Smith had sent back an epic photo of Minnesota native Prince when asked about his plans for 2022.
ESPN's Kevin Seifert was among those who spotted Smith's Instagram Story Thursday afternoon that featured his logo added to Prince's hat.
The return provides more than a decade of experience to an otherwise young secondary that will be led by new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores.
In 2022, Smith recorded five interceptions in a season for the fourth time in his career and moved into fifth all-time in franchise history with 34 career interceptions. After beginning the season tied for sixth with Carl Lee (29), Smith overtook Nate Wright (31). He trails only Krause (53), Bobby Bryant (51), Ed Sharockman (40) and Joey Browner (37).
View the best photos of Vikings S Harrison Smith from the 2022 season.
He also moved past Tommy Hannon (1,056 tackles) last season for the most tackles by a Vikings defensive back, capping it with 1,066.
The Vikings first became enamored with Smith while coaching at the Reese's Senior Bowl in 2012. They kept their interest in him unknown until draft night, and when Smith was still on the board, Minnesota traded back into the first round to tab Smith with the 29th overall pick. Minnesota sent a second-round pick and a fourth-rounder to Baltimore, which used the selections on Courtney Upshaw and Gino Gradkowski.