TRADE! Vikings Net Big Fish from Lions

Vikings Net Big Fish from Lions
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings made a splash just hours before the NFL’s trade deadline, navigating an injury to tight end Irv Smith.

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded a 2nd-Round pick from 2023 and a 2024 3rd-Round pick to the Detroit Lions for tight end T.J. Hockenson, a 2023 4th-Round pick, and a conditional 2024 4th-Round pick.

The move marks Adofo-Mensah’s 11th trade since taking the big job in Minnesota.

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Nov 8, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) scores a touchdown as Minnesota Vikings defensive back Chris Jones. © Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

Landing Hockenson with the NFL trade deadline four hours away was the largest splash for a tight end that could possibly be pulled off — by any NFL team. The move signifies the Vikings “in it to win it” mentality regarding the 2022 season, where the franchise is 6-1 and 3.5 games ahead of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

Hockenson, 25, was drafted in the 1st Round of the 2019 NFL draft by Detroit. In 47 career games, he’s netted 186 receptions for 2,068 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s also been slightly underutilized by the Lions in 2022, a team with a 1-6 record.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Iowa alumnus is under contract for $9.392 million thru the 2023 season, the final year of his rookie deal. The trade for Hockenson also signals a potential end of the road for current Vikings TE1 Irv Smith. Battling a high ankle sprain, Smith will miss the next few games inside the final year of his contract.

It is severely unlikely that Minnesota will retain both men for the long term.

Here’s a look at Hockenson’s Pro Football Focus resume to date:

  • 2019 = 60.5
  • 2020 = 75.5
  • 2021 = 68.1
  • 2022 = 69.4

The transaction between the Vikings and Lions is the second of 2022, as the teams shocked the world on draft night when Adofo-Mensah shipped his 12th overall pick to Detroit for what would turn into wide receiver Jameson Williams. The Vikings stockpiled picks and selected safety Lewis Cine to close out the 1st Round.

Hockenson becomes another target for quarterback Kirk Cousins, who already has mouths to feed in Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, and before Tuesday, Irv Smith. But contending football teams always find a way to get richer, and the Hockenson move follows suit.

Minnesota’s “offense-first” approach is alive and well, as executing splashy trades for Jalen Reagor and Hockenson is a stark departure from the Vikings front office actions of yesteryear.

Hockenson turns 26 next summer. Since joining the NFL, he ranks seventh in the NFL among tight ends via receiving touchdowns and 10th in receiving yards.

The Vikings travel to Washington for a date with the Commanders in Week 9.

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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 Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).