Vikings plans for 2024 revealed with Harrison Smith return

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith
Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

After Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter walked out the door earlier in the week, it seemed like Harrison Smith was going to be the next longtime member of the Minnesota Vikings to part with the franchise.

But then, on Wednesday, to the surprise of some, Smith agreed to take a pay cut for the second straight year, which means he will be back on the field in a Vikings uniform for the 2024 season.

The veteran safety has been with Minnesota since 2012, and with him deciding to return for another year, it seems like we can determine what the team is planning to accomplish next season.

There will be no tanking done by the Minnesota Vikings in 2024

Following the departures of Cousins and Hunter this offseason, some might have assumed that winning games won't be the Vikings' primary focus in 2024. But Smith sticking around seems to dispute that assumption.

Is Minnesota going to contend for the NFC's spot in next season's Super Bowl? Probably not, but that doesn't mean they can't compete for a playoff berth or even surprisingly win the NFC North title.

Minnesota has already added a bunch of talent in free agency this year, including pass rusher Jonathan Greenard, linebacker Blake Cashman, and running back Aaron Jones.

If the Vikings' main goal for 2024 was to lose as many games as possible to land a top spot in the 2024 NFL Draft, then they likely wouldn't have handed out more than $152 million in contracts to players in free agency so far this offseason.

While Minnesota's goal is to return to being a top contender in the NFC in 2025, it doesn't mean that they're just going to sit around and not be competitive next season. First, tanking a season is just not how the Vikings have really ever operated, and second, their roster is too talented for them to truly be terrible in 2024.

Minnesota likely won't be great next season, but a roster that features Harrison Smith, Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, Christian Darrisaw, Jonathan Greenard, Jordan Addison, Blake Cashman, Byron Murphy, and Aaron Jones is still going to lead them to plenty of victories.

When Cousins and Hunter parted with the team earlier this week, it probably made some Vikings fans fear that their favorite team was going to be among the NFL's basement dwellers next season. But with the return of Smith, combined with all of the players the team has added in free agency so far this year, Minnesota will still give their fans a lot to cheer about in 2024.