Irv Smith’s Father Gets Brutally Honest About Vikings’ Trade for T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson

Getty T.J. Hockenson leaves the field after a Lions loss to the Bengals in 2021.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. may be a lame duck after the team traded for Detroit Lions Pro Bowler T.J. Hockenson.

Smith, who is out 8-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain, is in the final year of his rookie deal and will reach free agency in the offseason. His chances of receiving a lucrative second contract in Minnesota were zapped the moment the Hockenson trade went through before the November 1 deadline.

His father, Irv Smith Sr., who played seven seasons in the NFL from 1993 to 1999, recently addressed the Vikings’ decision to trade for Hockenson and his son’s future.

 Irv Smith Sr. Says Trading for Hockenson Was ‘The Smartest Move’ Vikings Could Have Made

Just hours after the Hockenson trade was reported, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reached out to Smith Sr.

He was honest about his son’s injury and understood Minnesota’s decision after the team learned Smith Jr. could miss the rest of the season after an MRI on Monday for an injury he sustained against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.

“That’s probably why they got Hockenson. They’re trying to make a run for this season and they can’t just do it with one tight end,” Smith Sr. told Tomasson. “Hockenson’s a great player. To be honest with you, I think that was probably the smartest move they could make. … He’s got the size, the speed. … Everything about him just makes sense.”

Although the trade comes at Smith Jr.’s expense, the two tight ends are teammates for the time being and could make an appearance in the postseason together.

“[Smith Jr.]’s been hurt so much the last 2 years it’s tough. Football’s a very mental game. It’s going to show how tough he is if he can bounce back from this If he misses 6 to 8 to 10 weeks that’s pretty much the rest of the season,” Smith Sr. said of his son, per Tomasson.

Vikings Enter ‘New Stratosphere’ With T.J. Hockenson, Analyst Says

Hockenson arrives in Minnesota as the 12th-ranked tight end through eight weeks this season by Pro Football Focus. His upside has been capped by the Lions’ shortcomings the past few seasons, with his lone Pro Bowl appearance coming in 2020 with Matthew Stafford.

He caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns that season before Stafford left, and with a more talented offense surrounding him, the former No. 8 overall pick could unlock another level to his game.

Hockenson has developed into a strong run-blocker and is a receiver by trade. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he’s shown an athleticism that rivals the best at the tight end position and could be a favorite red-zone target of Kirk Cousins. He also unlocks the middle of the field with his size but can also make defenders miss and create after the catch.

There’s not a lot of tight ends who can do this right here. He’s got big-time ability. … He’s a very good run blocker and he;’s going to be a pain in the butt in the pass game,” Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms said. “He can do it all. Runs very well. Complement that with the run game with Dalvin Cook, Thielen, Jefferson it’s just the right combination you want to have with Kirk Cousins at quarterback. It takes there offense in my opinion into another stratosphere.

Hockenson’s ability to help in both the passing and running game should make the Vikings offense more balanced and unpredictable to opposing defenses.

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