Recent signing likely increases odds of Harrison Smith retiring

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith
Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

With Danielle Hunter reportedly signing with the Houston Texans, will Minnesota Vikings All-Pro safety Harrison Smith decide to retire from the NFL?

Harrison Smith has been a member of the Minnesota Vikings since 2012 when the team drafted him with a first-round pick. Ever since the conclusion of his 12th season with the Vikings, some have wondered if this will be the year we see Smith decide to call it a career in the NFL.

The veteran safety is now 35, and in terms of statistical production, he had a down year with Minnesota in 2023. Combine this with the rumors of the Vikings likely wanting Smith to take a pay cut for the second-straight season if he returns, and it seems like there's a more than decent chance of him retiring this year.

Something else also happened on Tuesday that could provide the Minnesota safety with another reason to hang up his cleats.

Will Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith retire after Danielle Hunter's departure?

After Kirk Cousins moved on from the Vikings on Monday to sign with the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota saw another longtime contributor officially part with the organization on Tuesday when Pro Bowl pass rusher Danielle Hunter reportedly agreed to a multi-year contract with the Houston Texans.

Hunter's departure was the latest sign that the Vikings are heading in a new direction this offseason and it's one that might require them to take a step back in 2024 to become a true contender again in 2025.

That step backward is probably going to involve plenty of struggles and hiccups next season. Is that something Smith is going to want to deal with at the age of 35?

Hunter leaving is not only a sign of change taking place in Minnesota this year, but it's also another example of Smith watching a longtime teammate walk out the door.

Hunter and Smith have been mainstays on the defensive side of the ball for the Vikings since 2015 when the pass rusher first entered the league as an unpolished third-round pick.

But he's heading to Houston now, and for Smith, things are starting to resemble the final scene from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" that features Will Smith standing alone in an empty living room.

If we've already seen the last of Minnesota's longtime safety in the NFL, he's had quite the career.

Smith is easily a lock for the Vikings Ring of Honor and no one is going to argue against him being regarded as one of the best defensive players in the history of the franchise.

Unfortunately, he was unable to help Minnesota win its first-ever Super Bowl. But he still managed to provide Vikings fans with a number of memories that will never be forgotten.

Will Smith choose to add more memories to his NFL career in 2024, or will he follow Hunter and Cousins out the door?