Browns rivals: 3 new problem players in the AFC North

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings
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2. Irv Smith, Jr., TE, Cincinnati Bengals

When NFL Free Agency opened, the Cleveland Browns were actively looking for a new tight end to play behind David Njoku. One name that was floated as a possibility was Irv Smith, Jr.

A former second round pick out of Alabama, Smith spent four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and was a rookie in 2019 while Kevin Stefanski was their offensive coordinator. That year, Smith had 36 receptions for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

He was even better in his sophomore campaign, hauling in 30 passes for 365 yards with five touchdowns. He then missed the 2021 season due to a knee injury and spent much of 2022 rounding back into form.

With the knee injury and slow season, Smith was likely to get a one-year deal to prove himself. Cleveland, however, never seemed interested as they went after Jordan Akins — who has experience with Deshaun Watson. Smith ended up signing with the Cincinnati Bengals in late March and will replace Hayden Hurst, who signed with the Carolina Panthers.

Smith isn't likely to be a Pro Bowl tight end but he can still be a problem. He runs well for a tight end (4.63 time in the 40-yard dash) and the Browns have had more than their share of issues covering tight ends.

Should they focus too much on star players such as Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, Smith could find some holes in the defense and be an issue for the Browns.