4 Vikings on the hot seat for 2021 after free agency moves

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr.
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) Irv Smith Jr. /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Irv Smith Jr. – TE

Kyle Rudolph made no secret of his displeasure regarding a lack of targets coming his way last season, probably realizing he was heading out of the door due to the financial savings involved.

The former Notre Dame standout was a huge presence on and off the field during his career with the Vikings, but he won’t be around in 2021 after signing a deal with the New York Giants following his release earlier this syear.

This is the opportunity Irv Smith Jr. has been waiting for. There was a clear changing of the guard during the 2020 season as the Alabama product assumed the No. 1 role. But much more will be needed from the young tight end if he wants to cement the spot long-term.

Smith has all the physical attributes needed to be a real success with more responsibility on his shoulders. It appears as if the Vikings are going to give him a lengthy audition next season and, hopefully, it will result in a substantial increase in production for the tight end.

If Smith comes up with the goods, it could make all the difference. Minnesota could add a new No. 3 receiver in the NFL Draft later this month to help boost Kirk Cousins’ options in the passing game. But if the tight end fluffs his lines and regresses in Rudolph’s absence, it might result in the team going in a completely different direction next year.