In the wake of Irv Smith Jr’s knee injury, the Vikings are making a significant move at tight end. Minnesota is making a trade for the Jets involving draft pick compensation for tight end Chris Herndon. The Jets are sending Herndon and a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Vikings for a 2022 fourth-round pick (via Tom Pelissero on Twitter).
Smith was supposed to take over as the team’s starter after the offseason departure of longtime starter Kyle Rudolph, but we heard just a couple of days ago that Smith was having surgery for a meniscus injury that will sideline him for the early part of the season.
The depth chart got pretty thin after that, so some sort of move was always likely. Herndon was a fourth-round pick of the Jets in 2018, and he flashed major potential as a rookie. In his first year as a pro he put up 502 yards and four touchdowns, very impressive numbers for a rookie tight end.
Unfortunately he was suspended for the first four games of 2019 for a substance abuse policy violation, and then played in only one game that year after hurting himself. He returned to play all 16 games last year, but had only 287 yards as the Jets’ whole passing game struggled.
He’s still only 25 and has always been talked about as a potential breakout guy, so the addition makes a lot of sense for the Vikings. It’s also a big opportunity for Herndon as he’s set to hit free agency for the first time next offseason. The Jets will now move forward with Tyler Kroft as the unquestioned starter at tight end.
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