After months of speculation and reports, star tight end TJ Hockenson is under contract with the Minnesota Vikings for the long haul. First reported by Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, Hockenson has agreed to a contract with that team that will make him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. With Hock now under contract, what does that mean for the Vikings heading into 2023? Breaking down everything there is to know about the new deal below, here’s what to look for.
Hockenson was the 8th overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2019 and was then the replacement to previous first round tight end Eric Ebron. Though his time in Detroit was solid, his play in Minnesota was incredible. In just 10 games, the former Lion racked up 60 receptions, 519 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a plethora of crucial catches and plays that immediately provided a new level of intrigue to an already good Minnesota offense. Though his time with Minnesota was only for a portion of the 2022 campaign, his full-season pace was 109 receptions, 1002 yards, and 5 touchdowns. If given the full season, those yards would put Hockenson on pace for the second-best tight end season by a Minnesota Viking tight end ever, only 2 yards behind Joe Sensor’s mark in 1981. As for receptions, he’d smash Rudolph’s record of 83 set in 2016. When breaking down his play, he was incredible and well worth the picks surrendered in the trade. With plenty of full seasons ahead, Hockenson has a chance to do damage on the field and in the stat book in 2023.
The important note when looking at his contract is the wording where initially it was reported he was not the highest paid, but one of the highest paid. Hockenson earned a payday, but the holdup seemed to not be was he worth it but how much he got. With Darren Waller’s new 3-year, $51 million dollar extension setting the base line, Hockenson looked to exceed that mark and now with the contract numbers surfacing, Hockenson negotiated a historic contract. With a 4-year, $68.5 million dollar contract, Minnesota locks in Hock through 2027. On top of this, the tight end not only reset the mark, but has the highest average annual value for a tight end yearly at $17.125 million and the most guaranteed money for a tight end at $42.5 million. Though there may be more ins and outs of the detail to unravel, the Hockenson sage in Minnesota will continue and Minnesota fans can now worry about one less franchise face as it pertains to contract extensions.
All in all, Minnesota got their guy. With superstar Justin Jefferson and first round phenom Jordan Addison stretching the sidelines, Hockenson has a great opportunity to continue to provide a valuable resource that the Minnesota offense thrives in. Breaking down linebackers and safeties consistently is what Hock does, which is why he’s one of the best in the league currently. Truly, Mundt and Muse are great athletes, but Hockenson’s presence, hands, and athleticism add a crucial factor in an offense that will already be hard to scheme against. Now, all eyes turn to Justin Jefferson and his contract extension, which many hope will be done before the season starts.