Minnesota Vikings address tight end position, trade for Chris Herndon

With Irv Smith Jr. set to miss who knows how long, the Minnesota Vikings had a need at tight end. Not anymore. Before rosters had to be finalized at 53, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman swung a trade for New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon. In the deal, Minnesota sent out a 2022 fourth-round pick while receiving a sixth-round selection in the same draft.

Below, we take a look at the trade and try to determine Herndon’s potential within the Klint Kubiak offense in 2021.

What does Chris Herndon add to the Minnesota Vikings’ offense?

minnesota vikings trade for chris herndon
Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (89) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Standing at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds, 25-year old Chris Herndon is an athletic tight end with decent size. The Jets selected Herndon in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. Herndon quickly burst on to the scene as a rookie catching passes from Sam Darnold.

Chris Herndon rookie stats

But here’s the catch. In 2019, Herndon was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Herndon then was battling a hamstring injury, before coming back to play in just one game before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2020, the entire Jets offense took a big step back, including Herndon.

Now, the fourth-year pro is entering the final season of his rookie contract, looking to make an impact before hitting free agency. Can he turn his career back around with the Vikings? We’ll see what role he has on Sundays.

What role will Hernon play on gameday for the Minnesota Vikings?

The role Chris Herndon plays will largely depend on the healthy of Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin. In all likelihood, Herndon is the new No. 3 tight end on the roster. Ideally, Smith Jr. will miss a few games at most, with Conklin starting in his place.

At the very least, Herndon is a big step up over unproven internal options such as Brandon Dillon and 2021 fifth-round pick Zach Davidson (who was cut today).

The Minnesota Vikings hope to reclaim some of Herndon’s hidden value. Herndon looked special as a rookie, making the PFWA All-Rookie team, but for whatever reason couldn’t get back on track in New York. Maybe it was having three different head coaches and offensive coordinators in four seasons.

Herndon can likely put up similar numbers to his final season in New York, with the potential for more if Irv Smith is out for an extended period of time. Either way, it seems like a nice pickup for the Vikings ahead of their Week 1 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

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