Irv Smith Jr. has officially signed a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals, the team announced Thursday.
Smith also released a brief statement on coming to the Queen City.
“I’m so excited to finally be a part of this,” Smith said. “It’s a blessing to be a part of a great organization like this. I’m excited to win games and get to it. Let’s go.
The Cincinnati Bengals are on the board at tight end!
Late Monday night, news broke that Cincinnati had signed Irv Smith Jr., arguably the No. 1 tight end left on the free agent market. He previously played for the Minnesota Vikings and collegiately for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
NFL Network reporter Peter Schrager broke the news first. Schrager added that Smith held offers from other NFL teams, but Cincinnati’s winning culture won out again.
A good sign for how far the Bengals have come… Irv Smith, Jr. had multiple offers and chose to play for Cincinnati over the rest because of Burrow, Chase, Higgins, and an opportunity to win.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) March 28, 2023
Smith, now entering his fifth NFL season, was a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the same class that produced now-former Bengal Drew Sample.
Having appeared in 37 career games (15 starts), the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Smith had a solid first two seasons, highlighted by a sophomore year in which he caught 30 passes for 365 yards and five scores. That earned him a career-best 70.0 Pro Football Focus grade and a 75.4 receiving grade.
Unfortunately, Smith would suffer a season-ending meniscus injury in September of 2021. His return in 2022 also left a lot to be desired, especially after an ankle injury cost him eight games. He finished the season with just 25 catches for 182 yards and two scores.
The Bengals are obviously hoping to get a steal here by Smith getting back to the level he was at in 2020, which would in turn lead to him becoming the latest former Bengals tight end to get rewarded with a career payday.
Congratulations to Irv Smith Jr. for the one year deal he just signed with the Bengals and the 3 year, roughly $24 million deal he will sign somewhere next March as the Bengals tight end contract factory continues. pic.twitter.com/IuD2VdbgNT— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrison) March 28, 2023