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Irv Smith Jr. receives praise from PFF and Vikings’ head coach

“There is a lot of really good football out in front of him.” - Minnesota HC Kevin O’Connell.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the Cincinnati Bengals’ tight end room was one of the biggest concerns during free agency.

With the signing of Irv Smith Jr., the position group is now on the upswing.

PFF’s Brad Spielberger believes Smith could be a major “boom-or-bust signing” for the Bengals this offseason if he can stay on the field.

Spielberger stated, “Smith looked very promising early in his career, often the top ‘training camp buzz’ name in Minnesota, but injuries began to stunt his growth. If the former second-rounder out of Alabama can regain some confidence and stay healthy, he still demonstrates explosive playmaking ability and plus athleticism at the tight end spot.”

Cincinnati signed the tight end to a one-year deal with a base value of $1.75 million with a maximum of $2 million.

With the potential Smith Jr. brings to the table, this can be an incredible snag for Duke Tobin and his staff.

Through all his injuries, including missing the entire 2021 season, Smith has still tallied 81 receptions for 858 yards and 9 touchdowns in his short career.

At the 2023 Annual League Meeting, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell praised the newest Bengals tight end during the NFL Owner’s meetings, according to Geoff Hobson of

When asked about Smith, O’Connell stated: “He’s great with the football in his hand. We found ways to get him the ball... Once he has the ball in the open field, he’s very rarely going to get tackled by the first defender. I really enjoyed coaching Irv and I think the best thing, just because where he is at in his career, there is a lot of really good football out in front of him, and he is motivated to go do that.”

Irv Smith Jr. believes Cincinnati has the best chance to win the Super Bowl, over other teams that were interested in him, which makes him an even more exciting signing.

If the Bengals' newest tight end is able to stay healthy in 2023, he could become another valuable weapon for Burrow in this high-powered offense.