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Arrival of T.J. Hockenson likely means Irv Smith will move on after 2022

Mike Florio and Chris Simms make their picks for the players and coaches who stepped up to the plate in Week 8 of the 2022 NFL season.

The Vikings had high hopes for tight end Irv Smith, Jr. when he arrived via round two of the 2019 draft. He now seems destined to exit as a free agent in roughly four months.

A high-ankle sprain suffered on Sunday has interrupted his contract year, prompting the Vikings to trade for T.J. Hockenson. The move includes assuming Hockenson’s fully-guaranteed fifth-year salary of $9.392 million. Which means that the Vikings likely will fill out the rest of the depth chart in 2023 with younger, cheaper players.

Smith, only 24, missed all of 2021 with a knee injury. In seven games this year, he has 22 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

With Smith injured, Hockenson could be pressed into service right away. And he arrives right on time. Minnesota’s four opponents in November are currently at or above .500, and they include a trip to Buffalo in Week 10.