Vikings’ Harrison Smith Breaks Silence on Exit of QB Kirk Cousins

The Minnesota Vikings have said goodbye to some of their best players this offseason, and those departures will be felt in numerous ways.

Kirk Cousins Set To Rejoin Vikings On Sunday - Daily NorsemanKirk Cousins Set To Rejoin Vikings On Sunday - Daily NorsemanKirk Cousins Set To Rejoin Vikings On Sunday - Daily Norseman

Kirk Cousins was arguably the biggest name to leave Minneapolis in free agency, though fellow team captains Danielle Hunter and Jordan Hicks weren’t far behind. Safety Harrison Smith appeared on “NFL Total Access” via the NFL Network on Wednesday, May 8, and put into words what the loss of Cousins specifically is going to mean to the locker room from a leadership standpoint.

“There’s gonna be a huge loss. Kirk Cousins as a person, as a leader, as a teammate — that’s a big void in your locker room,” Phillips said. “One of the most humble guys that I’ve ever been around. Servant leader, just a great motivator. He’s great. To ask one person to fill that void is probably not probable.”

Harrison Smith Advocates Leadership by Committee in Minnesota After Kirk Cousins’ Exit

Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

GettySafety Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings.


While Smith didn’t mention any other players by name, save for himself, he suggested a solution to the exits of Cousins, Hunter and Hicks: leadership by committee in a locker room with significant roster turnover at premium positions across the past several months.

“So what we’re going to do is have a great leadership team, which we’ve already seen. There’s already guys that I’ve seen these last few seasons being on this roster — some are captains, some are not captains yet but will be in their careers — and so we’re going to pass that torch off and kind of division of labor,” Smith continued. “We’re going to all carry that load together, and maybe we can be a better football team for it. Kirk’s obviously amazing. I’ve learned a lot from him and the leadership side of [things], and that’s an area I’m trying to step up and improve my game by working on those abilities.”

Smith, for his part, has been a leader by his play and sacrifice over the last several years, even if not so much verbally. A 12-year NFL veteran, all of them spent in Minnesota, Smith is a six-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro selection.

He has played through injuries, never missing more than three games in a regular season save for his second year in the league (2013). Smith has appeared in 176 career contests and made 175 starts.

Harrison Smith Has Sacrificed Money in Last 2 Seasons to Remain With Vikings


Harrison Smith, Vikings

Smith also sacrificed a significant amount of money in each of the past two years to remain a member of the Vikings, showing his devotion by taking less to help build something more.

The safety agreed to cut his base salary in 2023 from $14.7 million to $8 million, along with $2 million in incentives. Smith also restructured his contract ahead of the upcoming year, giving back $5.45 million in 2024.

Meanwhile, Hunter departed for the Houston Texans for an almost fully-guaranteed two-year deal worth $49 million, while Cousins left for the Atlanta Falcons and a four-year contract worth $180 million total ($100 million guaranteed). That isn’t to say either man did anything inappropriate or disloyal, and age/play level are factors that all three of Harrison, Cousins and Hunter — as well as the teams they will play for in 2024 — took into account before entering into negotiations.

Still, the Vikings should be thrilled that a player of Smith’s caliber and clout remains in the locker room to help fill the leadership void, particularly because he was willing to give money back to do so.

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