The Vikings have made Harrison Smith the NFL’s highest-paid safety

One of the young lynchpins of the Minnesota Vikings’ improving defense will be in the fold for the foreseeable future.

Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith, who had been signed only through 2016 but had been participating in offseason activities despite his desire for a contract extension, signed that extension Monday.

The five-year, $51.25 million deal make him the NFL’s highest-paid safety.

Smith, 27, has been a starter since the team selected him 29th overall in the 2012 draft and is known as one of the NFL’s hardest-hitting defensive backs. He helped lead the Vikings to an NFC North title in 2015.