Joe Burrow Is Hyped about a Former Viking

AFC/NFC Championship Picks
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws in the first quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Few NFLers have as pristine a reputation as Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, so when the young quarterback offers his stamp of approval, folks listen.

And the 26-year-old wasn’t shy recently about endorsing former Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith.

Joe Burrow Is Hyped about a Former Viking

Smith joined the Bengals in March after his rookie deal in Minnesota expired, and the Vikings didn’t re-up the Alabama alumnus. Cincinnati was tentatively slated to select a tight end in last month’s draft, but that theory was false, and Smith appears to be on deck for TE1 duties in September.

Joe Burrow Is Hyped
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) embraces Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (84) at the end of the game between Miami Dolphins and the Minnesota Vikings at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Burrow said about Smith, “Irv, first of all, he’s upstairs all day every day learning the offense, watching tape with James Casey (tight ends coach). So that’s exciting to hear. And he’s looking smooth — big, strong, athletic, smooth hands. So we’re excited to have that guy.”

The Bengals have reached back-to-back AFC Championships in 2021 and 2022 and show no signs of regressing.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks on from the sideline between drives in the second quarter of the NFL Week 18 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens at Paycor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. The Bengals led 24-7 at halftime. © Sam Greene / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Smith, 24, was drafted by the Vikings in the 2nd Round of the 2019 NFL Draft and possessed oodles of upside during his entire Minnesota tenure. But the club traded for T.J. Hockenson last November, spelling the beginning of the end to Smith’s career in purple. Free agency began on March 13th, and Smith was on tap to command some attention on the open market. Then, the first wave of free agency passed with no Smith news. The Saints were also in the Smith rumor mill because of his ties to Louisiana, plus his father played in New Orleans, but ultimately, the Bengals pounced.

Smith’s career may truly launch with the Bengals, as Burrow isn’t about to let any prolific playmaker flounder. Too, Smith will likely visit the postseason annually and get showcased as the undisputed TE1.

It Seems Irv Smith May Have Fumbled the Bag
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (84) looks on prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith has commended Burrow, as well, since becoming a Bengal, telling, “Playing against Joe in college and following his career, and seeing the success he’s had from afar, it’s been really cool just as a fan of football to watch that. So, to be his teammate and earning his trust, those types of things take time.”

Since joining the NFL in 2019, Smith has registered 91 receptions on 126 targets for 858 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. He’s averaged 23.2 receiving yards per game and missed 44% of all Vikings games due to injury. When he played, Smith made a difference at times but also experienced a couple of crucial dropped passes.

He suffered a high ankle sprain last October versus the Arizona Cardinals, an injury sidelining him for about two months. Soon after, the Vikings traded for the aforementioned Hockenson, and the former Detroit Lion — beyond the shadow of a doubt — made the TE1 job his own.

But with the budding relationship vis-à-vis Burrow at his new place of employment, Smith might not be ousted from TE1 duty for too long.

Smith will turn 25 in August. Cincinnati also employs former Vikings Jake Browning (QB) and Trevor Siemian (QB).

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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