How Irv Smith Jr. signing affects Bengals tight end depth chart
The Cincinnati Bengals needed to add a tight end between now and the start of the regular season and they did so with the acquisition of Irv Smith Jr. on a one-year deal. Smith will now try to be the latest tight end to benefit from playing with Joe Burrow in Cincinnati.
Smith even said that part of why he chose the Bengals is that the team had a wide array of weapons and he wanted to be a part of that, per Peter Schrager, who was the one to break the news of the signing on Tuesday morning.
Smith has the talent expected of a TE1 but the problem is that he hasn't been able to stay healthy during his career. In four years with the Vikings, he played in 37 games, caught 91 passes for 858 yards and nine touchdowns. His best year came in 2020 when he appeared in all but three games and had 30 catches for 365 yards and five trips into the end zone.
While the Smith signing could end up being a good one, this shouldn't be Cincinnati's plan at TE1 for 2023. They'll still want to draft a tight end on either Day 1 or 2. That being said, let's take a look at what the tight end depth chart might look like as of now in 2023.
Bengals tight end depth chart after Irv Smith Jr. addition
Starter: Irv Smith Jr.
This is a no-brainer but what happens if Smith gets hurt? The depth behind him leaves a lot to be desired and that's why this cannot be the only plan for the Bengals at tight end for 2023.
Backups: Devin Asiasi, Nick Bowers, Tanner Hudson
Asiasi is the only one who has taken snaps for the Bengals and until Smith joined the squad, he was the one who would have started if the team had to play a game right now. Fortunately, Asiasi will now be bumped into a depth role but as I mentioned before, if Smith gets hurt -- which considering his history is something we have to factor in -- then the backups all get bumped up a spot on the depth chart.
Tight end might not be as much of a weakness now but the Bengals still need to add help in the form of a draft pick or else things could get rough at the position.