The Cincinnati Bengals lost their starting tight end, Hayden Hurst, this offseason. While they replaced him with Irv Smith Jr. in free agency, the team's tight end situation could still be better.
Smith was a former second-round pick by the Vikings in 2019 and battled injuries during his four seasons in Minnesota. This is a low-risk, high-reward signing for Cincinnati because if Smith suffers from injuries, it's only a one-year deal and hopefully the Bengals draft a tight end this year who can fill in. If Smith balls out, then obviously that benefits the Bengals offense.
Before the draft gets here, let's take a look at the tight end depth chart.
Starting TE: Irv Smith Jr.
As mentioned above, the Bengals signed Smith to a one-year deal for the 2023 season with the intentions to make him their starting tight end. This hopefully won't deter them from drafting a tight end early on, as they should look to find a mainstay at the position rather than continuing to find free agent fits every year.
Smith's best year in Minnesota was in 2020 when he caught 30 passes for 365 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 12.2 yards per catch despite missing three games.
Obviously the worry with Smith is that he's injury prone but if the Bengals can get the 2020 version of him, that'd end up being a good contract for them.
Backup TE: Devin Asiasi
We knew the Bengals weren't going to enter the 2023 season with Devin Asiasi as their starter but he's a decent backup piece. He appeared in 12 games in 2022 and appeared in 23% of both offensive and special teams snaps. He had just two catches for five yards this past season.
The Rest: Tanner Hudson, Nick Bowers
Hudson played college football at Southern Arkansas and has bounced around the league since 2019, spending time with the Buccaneers, 49ers, and Giants. He's coming off the best season of his career, catching 10 passes for 132 yards. He probably won't be much of a weapon in Cincinnati but we said the same thing about Asiasi last year and he's worked his way into a backup role.
As for Bowers, the Penn State product spent last season on the Bengals practice squad. He was with the Raiders in 2021 and appeared in five games but didn't catch any passes.
This is currently what the Bengals tight end depth chart looks like. How much will it change between now and the end of the draft?