Jets Trade Away Promising Pass Catcher in Surprise Deadline Move

Chris Herndon Jets

Getty New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon going through drills during training camp.

The New York Jets tight end position has been completely unsettled over the last several seasons.

This offseason they added a few interesting pieces to the mix in veteran Tyler Kroft and undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah. Yet despite those additions, things haven’t significantly improved.

One player they have been waiting to develop and take the next step is Chris Herndon.

This season, in a contract year, seemed like a do-or-die moment for the fourth-year tight end. It still will be in 2021, but not for the Jets.

The talented tight end has been traded to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for “draft pick compensation”, per NFL Insider Ian Rapoport.


Herndon is on the last year of his rookie deal for $2.2 million per Spotrac.

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What Could Have Been

Herndon was originally taken No. 107 overall in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL draft. His draft day slide was mainly attributed to a torn ACL during his senior season at Miami.

The Jets seemingly got one of the best steals of that draft class as Herndon displayed freakish athleticism, crazy one-handed catches, and a glimpse of greatness.

Herndon finished his rookie campaign with 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged over 12.9 yards per catch and most of us thought it was simply the start of something magical.

Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a tease.

In 2019 he was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. When he eventually got on the field Herndon suffered another season-ending injury (fractured rib) and was toast for the rest of the year.

The series of unfortunate events continued in 2020 when he became the butt of jokes in a terrible Adam Gase offense. Whenever the ball was thrown Herndon’s way he either fumbled it, dropped it, or didn’t do anything with it.

Another disappointing season brought us to the doorstep of a make-or-break year in 2021. Now he is someone else’s problem.

After the loss of Irv Smith Jr, the Vikings had been desperately searching the tight end market for a replacement.

Minnesota landed a “high-ceiling player” that “solves” their tight end issues, per Rapoport’s series of tweets.

Jets Must Have Something Going on Behind the Scenes

Earlier on Tuesday, the Jets released promising undrafted free agent tight end Kenny Yeboah who was the star of the preseason finale.

Then a few hours later we find out about this Herndon trade to the Vikings. That leaves a lot of questions at the tight end position moving forward.

Is Tyler Kroft really going to enter the season as the unquestioned TE1 of this group?

This is a player that has never had more than 404 yards receiving in any single season of his six-year career to date.

While he had a nice connection with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson in the second week of the preseason vs the Green Bay Packers, we are still talking about preseason football here.

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