4 Vikings players earning new deals from their efforts in 2022

(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) Patrick Peterson
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) Patrick Peterson /
3 of 4
Minnesota Vikings
(Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Irv Smith Jr. /

Irv Smith Jr. – TE

All eyes were on Irv Smith Jr.’s return to the Vikings in 2022. The talented tight end’s endured some rough luck on the injury front since joining the team, featuring in just 29 games over three seasons and missing the entire 2021 campaign to increase concerns exponentially.

Smith’s athletic attributes have never been in question. But unless he demonstrates an ability to stay healthy and contribute, then the Vikings are well within their right to explore other options at the position next spring.

Although Smith hasn’t featured all that much in the passing game, with 29 targets so far, he’s been active for all six games before the bye week. To say this is a significant step forward would be a massive understatement.

So long as Smith remains healthy, then Minnesota should keep him around. It won’t be a lengthy or lucrative deal for the Alabama product, but it provides him with an opportunity to thrive further under an offensive-minded head coach in Kevin O’Connell.

There is still a lot to like about Smith’s potential within such an expansive offense.

The Vikings have a lot of mouths to feed, but if the former second-round pick can capitalize on opportunities when they arise, then all hope might not be lost beyond 2022. Especially considering the current state of affairs at the tight-end spot league-wide.