Former Viking Gets to Roll with the Champs

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Kansas City Chiefs roster will get some new flavor from a former Minnesota Vikings tight end.

Ex-Viking Latches onto Chiefs Roster

He’s Irv Smith Jr., and he’s reportedly joining the champs.

Chiefs Roster
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted Tuesday, the NFL’s second day of free agency, “Bengals free-agent tight end Irv Smith Jr. reached agreement a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, per source.”

Smith Jr., 25, 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 in November 2022, spelling the beginning of the end to Smith’s career in purple.

Has a New NFL
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

He then latched onto the Cincinnati Bengals, on deck for a career reclamation — that never happened. Smith Jr. tallied 18 catches for 115 yards in 12 games, also known as TE4 numbers. Chiefs fans will hope his potential can be unlocked with the NFL’s best player, Patrick Mahomes, but that probably would’ve happened in 2023 with Joe Burrow and friends. Or any season with the Vikings.

Smith was a part of the Vikings offense for four years but was overshadowed by veteran TE1 Kyle Rudolph in 2019 and 2020 and encountered injuries in 2021 and 2022. Since the start of 2019, Smith has registered 109 receptions on 152 targets for 973 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s averaged 19.8 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.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

The new Chief suffered a high ankle sprain in October 2022 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.

Smith’s fate was sealed in Minnesota when the Vikings signed a new TE2, Josh Oliver, from the Baltimore Ravens last offseason. He trekked to Cincinnati and will now try on Kansas City for size.

Vikings Activate Rookie and Could Get TE Back
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

This is the Chiefs’ TE depth roster as of March 12th:

  • Travis Kelce
  • Noah Gray
  • Jody Fortson
  • Izaiah Gathings
  • Gerrit Prince
  • Irv Smith Jr.

And, for curious minds, this is the Vikings’ current TE room:

  • T.J. Hockenson
  • Josh Oliver
  • Johnny Mundt
  • Nick Muse

The Chiefs have the league’s second-best odds to win the Super Bowl next year, with a +650 moneyline. The San Francisco 49ers lead the way at +500.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by