Former Lions RB Chides Team for Hockenson Trade

Worst After Week 16
T.J. Hockenson

Hours before the NFL’s trade deadline, the Minnesota Vikings finagled a deal with the Detroit Lions for tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The move was severely unexpected as the Vikings and Lions don’t transact trade business too often, and it was unknown that Detroit was ready to be done with the young tight end.

Still, the deal was executed — and not everyone was impressed. Ex-Lions running back Kerryon Johnson expressed befuddlement on Twitter, posting on Wednesday after the deal, “I really don’t understand how the Lions think this was a balanced trade.”

Alas, Vikings Have Franchise TE
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. © Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The Vikings 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 Vikings traded down two rounds next year and one round in 2024 to land Hockenson.

When first staring at the deal, the “2nd- and 3rd-Round” part jumps off the page as it seems like Minnesota dealt substantial draft capital to Detroit for a non-premium position (TE). But Adofo-Mensah “hedged the bet” with the additional picks accompanying Hockenson. The move was a pick swap for Minnesota — plus Hockenson as sweetener.

Johnson followed up on Twitter after the initial tweet:

My thing with hoarding picks….is when you have established good players and then trade them for picks you hope turn out to be established good players…at a certain point it becomes dumb right? Most recent example is Titans AJ brown situation.

Kerryon Johnson

And indeed, the Lions appear trapped in a rolling, perpetual rebuild — evidenced by trading a 25-year-old Top 10 TE for what equates to a few rounds of draft-night mobility.

Kwesi Keeps Trading
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Hockenson 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.

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 6-10 games inside the final year of his contract.

Overall, like all trades, the “who won” verdict will be revealed in years, not days. For now, though, the only downside for Minnesota would involve not securing a second contract for Hockenson or injury because the new Viking emphatically has the physical tools for the assignment.

The Vikings travel to Washington for a showdown with the 4-4 Commanders on Sunday. Hockenson is expected to play.

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).