The Vikings are set to receive a nice boost to their passing offense just in time for the playoffs as the team plans to activate tight endIrv Smith from injured reserve, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. In order to make room for Smith on the roster, the Vikings have waived tight end Nick Muse.
Coming off a meniscus tear that would cost him the entire 2021 season, Smith’s role as a starter diminished this year as the Vikings would favor starting better run blockers in Johnny Mundt and Ben Ellefson. Still, Smith led the team’s position group in receiving yards and touchdowns until suffering an ankle injury in a Week 8 win over the Cardinals that would land him on IR. Smith’s injury would lead Minnesota to send a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick to Detroit in exchange for tight endT.J. Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick, and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick.
Smith is set to hit free agency this offseason. If he wishes to remain in Minnesota past this year, Smith will need to show that he can earn targets in a crowded group of receivers. With Hockenson signed through next year, Smith will have to prove to the Vikings that he is worth Minnesota paying two pass-catching tight ends.
Muse’s rookie season comes to an end after failing to register one snap on offense for the Vikings this year. A seventh-round pick this year, Muse appeared solely on special teams in what would end up being a crowded, but injured, tight ends room. If he clears waivers, the Vikings can sign him to the practice squad and, eventually, a futures contract.
Beyond the previously covered quarterback situation, the Watts departure is Minnesota’s most notable cut. The 2019 sixth-round pick started nine games last season, moving into the lineup after Michael Pierce‘s injury. The Vikings cut Pierce this offseason, though Watts did not profile as a pure nose tackle. He was also drafted to play in a different scheme.
Minnesota hired a new DC this offseason (Ed Donatell), and the team acquired former Texans second-round defensive tackle pick Ross Blacklock on Tuesday. The Vikes had also added veteran Jonathan Bullard this offseason. These moves appear to have affected Watts’ status, as does the Vikings keeping only six D-linemen. They retained 10 after 2021’s cutdown day. Some of the changes can be attributed to classification, with edge defenders classified as outside linebackers in 3-4 sets. Watts also carried a $2.5MM cap charge, allowing Minnesota to save some decent money.
The Davis cut represents a quick bailout on a 2021 third-round pick. One of two guard Davises the Vikes shipped out Tuesday (along with Jesse, whom they traded to the Steelers), Wyatt — an Ohio State alum — played in six games last season and did not log an offensive snap. In addition to drafting Ed Ingram in the second round this year, the Vikings signed veteran interior linemen Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann.