After having what was universally expected to be a breakout season in 2021 delayed by injuries, Minnesota Vikings’ tight end Irv Smith Jr. is doing whatever he can to make sure his 2022 puts him on the map in a big way.
The fourth-year tight end will be among the NFL’s elite at the position when he attends Travis Kelce’s “Tight End University” this week in Nashville. Kelce, of course, is on the short list of the best players in the NFL at the tight end spot and has been for some time. He’ll be there with (among others) George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders, and Kyle Pitts of the Atlanta Falcons.
Smith is going into the final year of his rookie contract this season. As we know, he missed all of last season with a knee injury, which was pretty disappointing given what was expected of him last season and the fact that he was apparently fine until the final preseason game when his meniscus tear occurred.
If Smith wants to set himself up for a nice payday in 2023, he’s going to have to put together the sort of season this year that he was expected to have last year. In his first two NFL seasons he’s put up 66 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns, but he’s going to be looking to contribute in a much more significant manner this season. He also has to have the fact in the back of his mind that there were three tight ends that wound up getting the franchise tag put on them this offseason, a distinction that brought with it a one-year salary of nearly $11 million.
Irv Smith Jr. needs to have a big season in 2022 if he wants to, as the kids say, “secure the bag” this offseason. If he can stay healthy, he’s perfectly capable of putting such a season together, and that would leave the Vikings with an interesting situation on their hands going into the new league year.
Do you think Irv Smith Jr. is in for a big year in 2022, folks?