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Vikings sign Harrison Smith to major deal, but Patriots Devin McCourty still has the record for safety contracts

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The Patriots prove, once again, that they will pay more money for a player than any other team in the league.

The Minnesota Vikings just signed safety Harrison Smith to a monster deal this morning- a 5-year deal valued at $51.25 million with $15.28 million of full guarantees, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

That's a lot of dough. His value of $10.25 million per year (APY) of new money is the highest in the league, ahead of the likes of Seahawks safety Earl Thomas ($10 million APY) and Patriots safety Devin McCourty ($9.5 million APY). There's a chance that franchised Chiefs safety Eric Berry could top Smith's contract since the franchise tag is set at $10.8 million.

Smith is one of the best safeties in the entire league and he deserves his contract. He's the natural heir to Eric Weddle as the best do-everything safety and the Vikings are right to lock him up for the long term.

But let's take this time to tear down terrible myths and recognize the fact that the Patriots do spend record-setting money on players.

When you hear that a team has given a player "guaranteed money", it's important to note that there are two different styles of "guaranteed." There's the money a player gets the second they put their ink to the paper- signing bonuses or having their base salaries guaranteed.

And then there's the "deferred base salary guarantee", which is really more of a roster bonus than anything. The idea is that a player will have their contract guaranteed if they remain on the team past a certain date; for example Devin McCourty's 2017 base salary is "guaranteed" if he's on the team on the 5th league day of 2017. Some outlets count this as guaranteed money. Some don't.

It doesn't matter, though- the Patriots guaranteed McCourty enough money to set the market at the position.

Player ($ in 000s) Signing Bonus Base Gtd Total Future Gtd Max Gtd
Patriots FS Devin McCourty $15,000.00 $7,000.00 $22,000.00 $    6,500.00 $  28,500.00
Seahawks FS Earl Thomas $9,500.00 $10,225.00 $19,725.00 $    6,000.00 $  25,725.00
Eagles FS Malcolm Jenkins $7,500.00 $8,500.00 $16,000.00 $    5,000.00 $  21,000.00
Vikings FS Harrison Smith $10,000.00 $5,278.00 $15,278.00 $  13,300.00 $  28,578.00
Saints FS Jairus Byrd $11,000.00 $1,300.00 $12,300.00 $  14,000.00 $  26,300.00

McCourty remains the only safety with more than $20 million in fully guaranteed money and that means a lot. Smith, whose "max guarantees" exceed McCourty's by less than $100,000, earns almost $7 million less in fully guaranteed cash.

So keep that in mind when people claim that head coach Bill Belichick isn't willing to shell out money on star players. McCourty has the most guaranteed money of any safety in the league and his max guarantees are pennies behind a player who signed the deal with a much higher salary cap.