The Green Bay Packers have a plethora of needs that they need to meet before the start of the 2023 NFL season. One of these is the tight end position. As it stands currently, they have Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis on the roster at the position, but no depth whatsoever. Robert Tonyan signed with the Chicago Bears and Marcedes Lewis is still a free agent.
While most fans and analysts believe the Packers will draft a tight end or two in the upcoming NFL Draft, it stands to reason that they may also attempt to sign a veteran free agent. With this in mind, Alex Kay of Bleacher Report named Minnesota Vikings free agent tight end Irv Smith Jr. as a good fit for Green Bay.
Why Irv Smith Jr. Would Be a Good Fit for the Green Bay Packers
Of Irv Smith Jr., Kay writes:
“Irv Smith Jr. is one of the more intriguing free agents remaining on the open market. He’s hardly had a chance to showcase his talents since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2019, but he could finally get a shot to show out in 2023.
“His career with the Minnesota Vikings was marred by injuries and a logjam at the tight end position, factors that have severely limited the amount of action he’s seen.
“Smith gets an ‘incomplete’ mark for his work in Minnesota, but he could change his story by staying healthy and landing with a squad that could use a hyper-athletic pass-catching tight end. The 24-year-old still has plenty of upside and has only scratched the surface of what he can bring to the table.”
Signing Smith Jr. would be the kind of low-risk-high-reward signing that Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has become known for. A former backup who became the starter, only to have his season derailed by an injury in the preseason, Smith Jr. is looking for an opportunity to display the potential that led the Vikings to take him in the second round (50th overall) in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In his final (sophomore) season at Alabama, Smith Jr. had 44 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. As a rookie with the Vikings, he was their second tight end behind Kyle Rudolph. In his first season, he had 36 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns. The next season, still as Rudolph’s backup, he had 30 receptions for 365 yards and five touchdowns.
After missing the entire 2021 season with injury, Smith Jr. was primed to be the starting tight end for the Vikings in 2022. However, a torn meniscus in the preseason finale caused him to miss the first nine games of the season. In eight games last year, he had 25 receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
If the Packers were to take a flyer on Smith Jr., he would have a chance to compete for the starting tight end position. Seeing as this will be a re-tooling year for Green Bay, a one-year prove-it deal would make sense for both parties. If he stays healthy, he would be a great weapon for Jordan Love and the Packers offense. If not, well, they would not have committed too much of their future to him.
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