The Vikings traded a fourth-round pick for a sixth-rounder and tight end Chris Herndon, the presumptive replacement for Irv Smith Jr., who was poised for a breakout season before undergoing season-ending meniscus surgery, two weeks before the start of the regular season.
Herndon was signed as has yet to prove the Vikings made the right decision in the final days of the offseason as the trade occurred during a desperation window for the franchise.
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‘It’s Safe to Say They Overpaid’
Herndon was coming off a sophomore slump this preseason and was considered a potential cutdown day candidate.
Instead, the Vikings offered to swap a fourth-round pick for the Jets’ sixth-round pick in next year’s draft.
However, Herndon has seen just two targets, both in Week 1, and has yet to catch a ball this season. Touted as a strong receiver, his underwhelming presence as a pass catcher wouldn’t be so bad if he was often used as a blocker.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t.
Herndon has averaged under 11 snaps a game so far this season. He’s coming off a season-low seven snaps in the Vikings’ 14-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns. He also doesn’t play special teams, making his presence in purple and gold seem like a mirage.
“The Vikings making the move for Herndon wasn’t a huge surprise given how desperate they were for a tight end following the loss of Irv Smith Jr. for the season. But it’s safe to say that they overpaid,” Jet Press writer Justin Fried said.
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Homegrown Tight End Outperforming Herndon
After not playing in Week 1, Ben Ellefson, a native of Hawley, Minn., has played more than Herndon every week.
Ellefson has played 60 snaps in the past three weeks compared to Herndon’s 31 plays on offense. Ellefson was picked up off waivers after he was cut from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“General manager Rick Spielman probably hoped Chris Herndon would’ve contributed more than he has at this point. Herndon is the No. 3 tight end behind Tyler Conklin and Ben Ellefson, the Hawley, Minn. native who was claimed off waivers a day after Spielman sent a fourth-round pick to New York for Herndon and a sixth-round pick,” Star Tribune beat writer Andrew Krammer wrote in an Oct. 1 Vikings mailbag post. “Asked about Ellefson’s quick role, Conklin pointed to his intelligence in learning the playbook and his blocking that’s needed in this offense. However, Ellefson missed Thursday’s practice due to a neck injury, which could lead to a bigger role for Herndon out of necessity.”
The Jets covered Herndon’s $1.2 million signing bonus, which makes his cost on the books approximately the same as Ellefson.
However, the value of the fourth-round pick is looking more like a mid-round pick, which holds plenty more potential value than Herndon what’s looking to be an early sixth-round pick with the Jets.