The biggest story of the day for the Minnesota Vikings was the trade to acquire T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions. The tight end position had become a need due to Irv Smith’s high ankle, but amidst the NFL trade deadline chaos, news quietly came out that the need at the position was greater than we initially thought. Smith’s injury is apparently quite serious, and the Vikings TE heads back to IR once again.
This is the second time in the past two seasons that Smith has found himself on IR, and it’s the third significant injury for the tight end. He missed the entire 2021 season with a meniscus tear, and he was out for the 2022 preseason with a thumb injury. This time around, Smith is expected to be out anywhere from six to ten weeks.
With this injury, it appears the once-promising tight end might be approaching the final hour of his Vikings career. After a strong first two seasons in 2019 and 2020 alongside Kyle Rudolph, 2021 and now 2022 were supposed to be his coming out party.
Instead, Smith has now played just seven of a possible 24 games since the start of last season. As his contract expires at the end of the year, Minnesota may not want to pay him to come back. That becomes an even bigger possibility given the fact that Hockenson had his fifth-year option accepted by the Lions, and he is now under contract through the 2023 season.
Best case scenario, Smith returns in time for a Vikings playoff run and proves he can still be a contributor. Worst case, he could miss the entirety of the season and head into free agency as a true unknown.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.