Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Vikings breakout candidate, TE Irv Smith Jr., was reported that he is expected to undergo surgery for a meniscus injury that will sideline him for at least the start of the regular season. The two potential outcomes could be either surgery for Meniscectomy where he is out 2-4 weeks, or surgery for a Meniscus Repair where he would be out for the season, per source.
Irv Smith Jr. was ready for a breakout season in his 3rd NFL Season after the team parted ways with 10-year veteran TE, Kyle Rudolph. Unfortunately, it seems that has been put on pause for the time being. Irv Smith Jr. recorded 66 receptions, 676 yards, and 7 touchdowns in 29 games played and just 14 starts. In his final 4 games where Kyle Rudolph did not play he recorded, 15 receptions on 20 targets, 183 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
What the Vikings should do:
Currently, the Vikings' backup Tight Ends are Tyler Conklin, Brandon Dillon, Zach Davidson, and Shane Zylstra. Tyler Conklin wouldn't be a bad replacement if Irv were to miss some time but he has been dealing with an injury himself and the other guys might barely make the 53-man roster. So with Irv Smith Jr. almost guaranteed to miss the first few weeks of the regular season and potentially the whole season, trading or signing a Tight End could be in the best interest of the Minnesota Vikings.
Some Free Agents the Vikings could go after would be Tyler Eifert, Trey Burton, or they could go out and get Tim Tebow for no reason. Some guys they could trade for are Browns David Njoku, Bucaneers O.J. Howard, or Giants Evan Engram...but the most intriguing guy the Vikings could go after is current Eagles Zach Ertz who is on the trade block. From 2013-2020 Zach Eartz has 6 seasons with 50+ receptions and 700+ yards, including 116 receptions, 1,163 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 2018.
Update 9/1/21 10:29 AM:
Irv Smith Jr. is officially out for 4-5 months, likely ending his season. This is a HUGE loss for the Vikings. Recently the team traded for Jets TE Chris Herndon, bad price of draft picks given up, but good upside for the player. Tyler Conklin will definitely need to step up for the team which I think he will. Overall, it’s just a huge bummer that a guy like Irv, on track for a breakout year, had to suffer an injury like this…no less in a preseason game.