Former Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. heads to Cincinnati Bengals

Irv Smith Jr. #84 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball in front of Jahlani Tavai #51 of the Detroit Lions to score a touchdown in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 08, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings had visions of Irv Smith Jr. becoming the next great tight end to replace Kyle Rudolph, and wear the jersey previously donned by Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss.

Smith’s time with the Vikings is over after three seasons, and just 37 career games. The 2019 second round pick out of Alabama is reportedly headed to the Cincinnati Bengals on a one-year contract. He became a free agent after the 2022 season, and the writing might have been on the wall after the Vikings traded for T.J. Hockenson last year, and signed Josh Oliver in free agency.

Smith played in just eight games in 2022, starting one. He made 25 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. In 15 starts over three seasons in Minnesota, Smith had 91 catches on 126 targets for 858 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Vikings drafted Smith and released Rudolph a year later. Rudolph spent 2021 with the New York Giants, then last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith’s time with the Vikings was marred by injury.

He played 13 games and started seven in 2020, missing time because of a groin injury. He missed the entire 2021 season after suffering a meniscus injury in a preseason game. He also missed a majority of training camp last year after suffering a thumb injury in training camp on the first day in pads that required surgery.

Smith will now get a chance to be the lead tight end for Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, after Hayden Hurst signed with the Carolina Panthers in free agency and will be teammates with former Viking Adam Thielen.

With Smith’s departure, the tight ends on the current Vikings’ roster are Hockenson, Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt, Oliver and Nick Muse.