Ty Chandler

Vikings Designate TE Irv Smith Jr. For Return, Activate RB Ty Chandler

The Vikings pulled off one of the more notable trades during this year’s deadline to help offset the loss of Irv Smith Jr. The fourth-year tight end could be back in the fold, soon however.

Smith was designated for return from IR on Wednesday, per a team announcement. That opened up the 24-year-old’s three-week window to be activated and allowed him to practice for the first time since October. Smith suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 8, leading to his extended absence.

That represented the latest in a long line of availability concerns for the former second-rounder, who missed the entire 2021 campaign due to a meniscus tear. It also dealt another blow to his free agent value, something of particular concern as he is a pending free agent. Most importantly, though, it drove Minnesota to swing a midseason deal with Detroit for two-time Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson to replace him.

Hockenson has been as advertised since his arrival in Minnesota. The former top-ten pick has racked up 52 catches, 444 yards and three touchdowns in eight games with his new NFC North employer. Given that level of production, not to mention to presence of wideouts Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn as competition for targets, it will be interesting to see how much of a role Smith is able to carve out down the stretch.

The Vikings will also have more depth in the backfield to close out the regular season. Minnesota activated rookie running back Ty Chandler; they needed to do so today to avoid having him revert to season-ending IR. The fifth-rounder has played in two games this season, both of which came in October. He has exclusively seen time on special teams so far, but could provide insurance behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison if necessary.

The Vikings have five IR activations remaining on the year, though Smith will account for one of those in the near future. His return will give a boost to what is already the league’s fifth-ranked passing offense as Minnesota looks to turn their relatively healthy roster into a deep playoff run.

Vikings Activate CB Cameron Dantzler, Place DL Jonathan Bullard On IR

DECEMBER 10: To no surprise, Dantzler has indeed been activated, per a team announcement. That comes as welcomed news for the Vikings, given the injuries suffered at the position by rookies Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth during his absence. Dantzler should immediately return to a starting role.

In a corresponding move, Minnesota has placed Jonathan Bullard on IR. The veteran d-lineman suffered a biceps injury last Sunday against the Jets, a game which marked the first in five weeks which he did not start. There was initial optimism that his injury would not be serious, but further testing has led to what will be at least a four-week absence.

DECEMBER 7: Kevin O’Connell expressed hope Cameron Dantzler would be ready to return from IR when first eligible. The Vikings took a step toward that happening Wednesday, designating the starting cornerback for return.

Minnesota designated both Dantzler and running back Ty Chandler for return. Each player has 21 days to be activated or miss the rest of the season. While IR math might come into play regarding Chandler, the Vikings are expecting Dantzler to be activated immediately.

A 2020 third-round pick, Dantzler has been the team’s regular boundary starter opposite Patrick Peterson this season. The Mike Zimmer-era draftee has started all eight games he has played during his third NFL slate. A part-time starter last year, Dantzler was a reliable cog for DC Ed Donatell before going down with a high ankle sprain.

Pro Football Focus rates Dantzler just outside the top 40 at corner this season. The Mississippi State alum held off second-round rookie Andrew Booth for the starting role opposite Peterson; Booth did not see much time before undergoing knee surgery last week. The Clemson product being out for the season as a result of the operation places more importance on Dantzler’s status, but the Vikings appear close to redeploying their Peterson-Dantzler duo. Dantzler has 25 starts on his resume.

Minnesota’s Ben Ellefson activation last week leaves five such moves remaining. Dantzler will undoubtedly cut into this total, though it would not surprise to see the Vikings slow-play it with Chandler to determine how their injury situation unfolds. The Vikes placed the rookie fifth-rounder on IR back in October due to a broken thumb. Playing behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, Chandler saw action in only two games before hitting IR and has not played an offensive snap as a pro yet.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/11/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/12/22

Thursday has featured several rookie deals finalized. Here are the mid- and late-round draftees to sign their four-year contracts today:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • WR Montrell Washington (fifth round, Samford)

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • RB Snoop Conner (fifth round, Ole Miss)
  • CB Gregory Junior (sixth round, Ouachita Baptist)
  • CB Montaric Brown (seventh round, Arkansas)

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans