MARCH 31: This deal amounts to a 2023 flier, with ESPN’s Field Yates noting (via Twitter) it comes with a $1.75MM base value and can max out at $2MM. It will position Smith to make an impact in a Joe Burrow-led offense ahead of a possible second bid in free agency or a Cincinnati extension.
MARCH 28: Cincinnati had a notable vacancy at the tight end position heading into the second wave of free agency, but it has now been filled. The Bengals are signing Irv Smith Jr. to a one-year deal, reports Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager (Twitter link).
The Bengals inked Hayden Hurst to a one-year deal last offseason, giving them an experienced starter at the tight end spot. He was among the top options at the position in this year’s free agent class, however, and signed a big-ticket deal with the Panthers. For the second straight year, that left Cincinnati looking for a replacement seam-stretcher.
Smith brings plenty of upside as a pass-catcher, having flashed potential during his time with the Vikings. Injuries have been a central aspect of his career to date, however, including a meniscus tear which cost him the entire 2021 campaign. He was back on the field to begin the 2022 season, but an ankle injury limited him to eight contests. The 24-year-old has been available for a full year only once so far in his career.
Smith’s most recent absence drove Minnesota to trade for T.J. Hockenson at the deadline, and the former Lions first-rounder is set to lead the Vikings’ TE room for at least one more year. His acquisition pointed to Smith being forced to head elsewhere on the open market, and Cincinnati represents an attractive landing spot for the Alabama product.
The Bengals once again boasted one of the league’s top passing attacks last season, driven in large part by their top receiver duo of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Smith, if he is able to stay healthy, will have the opportunity to work as a secondary option in terms of pass-catchers in an offense with several mouths to feed. The former second-rounder could be well-positioned for new career highs after he set personal marks in 2020 with 365 yards and five touchdowns.
Doing so would allow the defending AFC North champions to remain productive at the tight end spot, while helping Smith boost his value ahead of next offseason. The Bengals – who also met with Foster Moreau before this deal with Smith – will have a number of high-end TE prospects to choose from in next month’s draft. In case they miss out on one of the rookies they could be targeting, though, they will have a short-term veteran option at the top of the depth chart.
14 comments on “Bengals To Sign TE Irv Smith Jr.”
Irv Smith Jr. and OJ Howard originally both looked like can’t miss TE prospects coming out of Bama.
For whatever reason, albeit some of their time being g limited due to injuries, neither prospect has really lived up to their hype…
This might be Smith Jr.’s last chance at a big pay day, and as the number one prominent TE for a team, so hopefully he’s able to stay on the field, finally put it all together, and show people why he was originally selected so high in the first place.
If so, that would be a huge bonus for Cincy, I think it’s a pretty smart move on their part, as I do believe in Smith Jr.’s abilities, and I think he can be a solid contributor for them as they make their next playoff push.
Also seemed obvious if they were signing anyone who could complete for starters work or had to be smith. Only him and Moreau are free agents who were free agents last year. Bengals had already passed on the others once and it’s not like them to second guess.
If Smith can ever stay healthy he might be a monster. Worst he can replicate what Hayden did and not force the bengals to draft a first round TE. Unless Myer is there who I don’t but they seem to love, wait till the second and hope the Washington or Oregon st qb is there. Maybe more a 5th rounder to jump up a few spots in the second to go get him.
Interesting. So quick question, why take a QB in the second round when you have Joe Burrow? He would presumably be a backup QB then for his entire rookie contract, unless Joe gets hurt.
Meant TE. Typo
Hard to believe this guy is still only 24 years old. Tons of talent. If he can stay healthy, he has the opportunity for a monster season. His skill set definitely fits the bengals offense better than Hursts did. Bengals had targeted Moreau, so this is a good pivot after that unfortunate situation. I totally expect them to draft a TE within the first 3 rounds. This signing allows them to not force that pick tho.
A monster season? Who was the last Bengal TE to have a monster season? The Bengals don’t value TE. They haven’t spent money on that position since they drafted Eifert and that was before Taylor. I expect if Smith stays healthy, they will get 40 receptions for 400 yards, which is pretty much what Hurst and Uzomah gave them
Agreed – how monster could it be when you’re feeding Boyd, Chase and Higgins for yards and TDs before him
Not to mention Irwin.
1. Zac Taylor’s offense (which is really Sean McVay’s offense) is built around play action. Tight ends are an integral part of that. It’s not that the Bengals don’t WANT a Pro Bowl caliber tight end, it’s that they haven’t found one yet.
2. As a franchise, there aren’t many teams that have invested more draft capital into the position. Since 2010, they’ve spent two #1’s, a #2, and a #3 on tight ends. And it’s a safe bet they take another tight end early in this draft.
Not since Taylor had been there. They are on the 1 year rental. The Rams don’t use their TE unless out of necessity when their WR’s are hurt. I imagine that Smith will catch about 40 passes for 400 yards, which is what the last 2 mediocre TE’s have done.
So not bad points and I get you’re logic. However , if Burrow is healthy and has a great year … let’s say 4000 yards and 40 TDs
Chase 10 TDs and 1500 yards
Higgins 8 TDS and 1200 yards.
Boyd 6 TDs and 800 yards.
Irwin 4 TDs and 400 yards.
Running backs 350 yards and 4 TDs
I mean , add that up and there’s not much left for Irv Smith.
There’s only 1 ball.
Speaking of RBs; Perine gone, Mixon older. That’s the elephant in the room. Need help to balance offense. Yes? Drafting an RB equal in priority to that of TE?
Smith had the job handed to him and, well, he dropped it.
You know how hard it is living among these gems here in Cincinnati? According to them the already have the next Montana, Moss, Rice, Irvin and Payton, now Irv will be the next Gates. Silly ass fan base.