The trade itself wasn't necessarily a shock in that Herndon was considered untouchable — far from it, in fact. Most just expected Herndon to return as one of the team's de facto top tight ends in 2021.
But in reality, it's likely a move that most should have seen coming. Perhaps the most shocking aspect about the trade is the compensation the Jets received in return.
The Jets sent Herndon and a sixth-round pick to Minnesota in exchange for a fourth-round pick. They also paid his signing bonus worth roughly $1.4 million while the Vikings only paid his minimum $920,000 salary.
That's excellent value for a player who likely didn't have much of a future with the organization.
The Chris Herndon trade was fantastic value for the NY Jets
It's rather amazing that the Jets were able to get as much back as they did for Herndon. Given his soon-to-expire contract and abysmal season a year ago, it's safe to say that the Jets got above market value for their young tight end.
Herndon showed promise in his rookie season leading all rookie tight ends in catches and touchdowns. But that was three years ago. It's hard to imagine a player's stock dropping as much as Herndon's has over the last few years.
A suspension and multiple injuries kept him sidelined for virtually the entire 2019 campaign and he returned in 2020 and put together a season to forget.
This is a player that posted a 13.9 percent drop rate a year ago. Despite starting an entire season, Herndon finished with just 31 catches for 287 yards.
13 of those catches came in just two games. In more than half of the games Herndon played in 2020, he finished with either zero or one reception. He was a complete afterthought for virtually the entire season.
Herndon finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 57.6 that ranked 60th out of 71 qualified tight ends. By that standard, Herndon was hardly even a backup-caliber tight end.
Among tight ends with 40 or more targets, Herndon's dreadful 0.87 yards per route run ranked 33rd out of just 34 qualifiers. By every single metric, Herndon was one of the worst tight ends in football last year.
Combine that with the fact that he's in the final year of his deal and it's quite simply a miracle that the Jets were able to snag a fourth-round pick for him. Even if they did have to give up a sixth and surrender a little money.
There was a time that Herndon looked like one of the most promising young tight ends in football. That time was three years ago. Herndon's struggles can't be blamed on anyone but himself.
He was fully healthy in 2020 and was one of the worst tight ends in the NFL. You can blame Adam Gase for a lot of things, but the infamous former Jets head coach isn't to fault for Herndon's collapse.
Perhaps a change of scenery will do Herndon good. But as it stands right now, the Jets should be patting themselves on the back for getting as much as they did in this trade.