Six weeks ago, it was Brandon Dillon. Now the New Orleans Saints have added another former Minnesota Vikings tight end in free agency — Chris Herndon.
Herndon played in 16 games for the Vikings last year but was only allotted seven targets in the team’s passing game. He wound up with 40 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Drafted in the 4th Round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, Herndon collated an impressive rookie season, tallying 502 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 56 targets four years ago. Since then, however, Herndon has battled injuries (2019) and irrelevance, especially the latter in Minnesota.
Any player who tabulates 40 receiving yards and a solo touchdown in a single season is mostly anonymous on a football team, but such was not the case for Herndon. Onlookers of the Vikings knew all about the 26-year-old TE because of his arrival to Minnesota. Former general manager Rick Spielman acquired Hernon via trade from the Jets — in controversial fashion. Tight end Irv Smith was lost for the year to a meniscus tear at the end of preseason, and Spielman sent a 2022 4th-Round draft pick to New York for Herndon — an astronomical pricetag for a man who wound up with seven passing-game targets.
The move was described as “panicky” and quasi-irrational. Tyler Conklin became the TE1 while Herndon was a total footnote. And a 4th-Rounder for a TE2 or TE3 is unappealing. Hell, the Carolina Panthers added a QB1 in Baker Mayfield for a 5th-Round selection four weeks ago.
Regardless, Herdon will receive another fresh start and battle seven other Saints TEs for a roster spot, including TE-QB Taysom Hill. Adam Trautman is expected to win the TE1 gig, but Herndon could reasonably make the 53-man depth chart as a TE3 or so.
Herndon has produced 78 receptions for 836 yards and eight touchdowns in his career.
The Saints now employ five former Vikings: Brandon Dillon (TE), Jaleel Johnson (DT), Dylan Mabin (DB), Eric Wilson (LB) — and Herndon.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).