The NY Jets made the decision to move on from tight end Chris Herndon this summer in a move that hardly came as a major surprise. What was a surprise at the time, however, was how much the Jets were able to get for him.
Herndon had fallen off a proverbial cliff following a promising rookie campaign and was fresh off a disastrous 2020 season that saw him finish with just 31 catches for 287 yards in 16 games.
What that stat line doesn't show is that Herndon finished with one or fewer catches in more than half of those games. His numbers were inflated by a few outlier performances where he racked up garbage time stats.
Herndon was about as bad as a starting tight end could be in 2020, and some even saw him as a potential cut candidate heading into training camp, despite a very weak Jets tight end room.
Instead, the Jets managed to ship him to the Minnesota Vikings along with a 2022 sixth-round pick in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick.
And so far, that trade is looking like a steal for general manager Joe Douglas and the Jets.
Chris Herndon has done next to nothing since leaving the NY Jets
The Vikings making the move for Herndon wasn't a huge surprise given how desperate they were for a tight end following the loss of Irv Smith Jr. for the season. But it's safe to say that they overpaid.
In four games, Herndon has been a complete non-factor for the Vikings. How much of a non-factor? I attempted to use an image of Herndon in a Vikings uniform for this article.
There were none. It's like he's not even on the team.
He's been targeted just twice over the first four weeks recording a grand total of zero catches for zero yards. He's dropped one of his only two targets.
Herndon's averaging a little over 10 snaps per game with a season-low seven offensive snaps played this past Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. On top of that, he still doesn't play special teams so he's provided no contribution there either.
But there's always more to a player than his box score statistics, right? Perhaps Herndon is contributing in ways the stat sheet doesn't register.
Unfortunately, his dreadful 44.1 Pro Football Focus grade suggests otherwise. Of the 107 tight ends to receive a PFF grade this season, Herndon ranks 94th. Up until a week ago, he was ranked second-to-last meaning that his seven-snap performance on Sunday actually improved his ranking.
The Vikings surrendered a fourth-round pick for a player who has provided no value as a receiver, blocker, or special teamer. But what about that sixth-round pick they got back? Doesn't that lessen the value of the draft capital exchanged?
Sure, it does somewhat. But probably not as much as you'd expect.
Assuming both the Jets and Vikings finish with top-10 picks this season (which seems to be a fair assumption), each of those selections will be at the top of their respective rounds.
Therefore, that average value of draft capital exchanged would equate to around a mid-fourth-round pick, using most draft pick value charts. Even if the Vikings select more toward the middle of the pack, that draft value only drops to a late-fourth-round pick.
No matter how you look at it, the Jets traded Chris Herndon for the value of a fourth-round pick.
Considering the fact that he was in the final year of his contract, was coming off a horrendous season, and has done virtually nothing for his new team, that can't be looked at as anything other than an absolute steal.
Joe Douglas deserves criticism for some of his decisions in recent years. But he looks to have hit a home run with this trade.