The one thing the Minnesota Vikings hoped wouldn’t happen happened with tight end Irv Smith Jr. going down with an injury before the season started, again.
Unless the team plans on rolling Johnny Mundt and Zach Davidson out there as their primary tight ends, it would make sense for them to start thumbing through the free agent pages in search of a veteran playmaker to come in and contribute.
Smith is hopeful to return by the start of the season, but there are no guarantees at this point.
It would have been nice to see the team pull the trigger on that Kyle Rudolph reunion while it was still a thing. Now, the former longtime Vikings tight end is catching passes from Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But we’re not here to cry over spilled milk. It isn’t like general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had a crystal ball with the future in it sitting on his desk. Things happen and the team is now in a position where they need to make the best of their situation.
Here are three tight ends the Vikings should consider calling up right now.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Just in case anyone was wondering, Jared Cook is still sitting out there in free agency.
The veteran tight end is a bit long in the tooth, but he’s also coming off a season where he hauled in 48 receptions for 564 yards and four touchdowns with the Los Angeles Chargers. This isn’t your typical 35-year-old tight end that’s fallen off a cliff.
Cook still has some juice left in the tank.
The ability to make plays as a receiver is the one element the Vikings miss at tight end without Smith in the lineup. They have enough blocking tight ends already on the roster. Kevin O’Connell’s offense could certainly use another playmaker at the position.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Ebron woke up on Wednesday morning and reminded the NFL world he was still a free agent.
Good Morning! Still a Free Agent 🤓. Ok Welp, back to NFTs
— Ebron85.eth (@Ebron85) August 3, 2022
Maybe the Vikings should give the veteran a look.
He found himself on the outs with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being overtaken by rookie second-round draft pick Pat Freiermuth on the depth chart. So he sputtered in his 2021 campaign with 12 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown before going on injured reserve eight games into the season.
Perhaps a change of scenery could reignite the fire he showed in 2020, when he had 56 receptions for 558 yards and five touchdowns. That’s the version of Ebron the Vikings could use on their roster.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
In his prime, Jimmy Graham was one of the most dominant offensive playmakers in the game.
Father Time comes for us all at some point, but Graham is still a serviceable enough option to help the Vikings. There are a bevy of other receiving weapons on the roster. So this isn’t a situation where Graham would be asked to turn back the clock on his production.
But he’d obviously find opportunities to make plays with defenses keyed in on the myriad of other playmakers like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn and even Dalvin Cook.
Graham’s last stop was with the rival Chicago Bears, where he caught 14 balls for 167 yards and three touchdowns last season.