Don’t Forget the Contract Extension of the ‘Other Guy’

Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Armon Watts (96) performs a drill during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason talker in the Vikings space has been dominated by Dalvin Cook, Danielle Hunter, and Justin Jefferson. Cook was released, and the wide receiver is expected to receive a huge contract extension after his record-breaking start in his NFL career.

Hunter, meanwhile, is rumored to be a potential trade candidate because he demands a new contract. While he certainly deserves to be paid more, there is a chance that the organization isn’t willing to match his demands and trade him instead.

Don’t Forget the Contract Extension of the ‘Other Guy’

Hunter and Jefferson are the two major talking points from a contract standpoint, but they are not the only players who need a brand-new deal sooner rather than later. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is under contract for one more season. He will play on his fifth-year option in 2023. The Vikings must extend him to avoid the franchise tag game 12 months from now.

Forget the Contract
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

When general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pulled the trigger right before the trade deadline and brought the Pro Bowl tight end to Minnesota, it was a rare, universally praised move. Even the usual complainers didn’t know what to say.

The Vikings received an excellent player for the cost of a second-round pick, and he immediately showed his potential when he caught ten passes in the debut for his new team against the Commanders.

Hockenson recorded 60 receptions for 519 yards and 3 scores in just ten games with the Vikes. He also contributed 10 catches for 129 yards in the playoff game – the first postseason contest in his career. The 60 grabs were the most of a tight end in the first 10 games with a franchise in NFL history.

When the tight end joined the Lions’ division rival, he immediately became the second option in Kirk Cousins’ passing attack. It will be fascinating to see if his role can even grow after an offseason with the team and get fully comfortable with the playbook.

Justin Jefferson Weighs in
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during the first quarter against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Hockenson is clearly part of the long-term plans of the organization and a foundational piece. He wasn’t acquired to be in the building for just a couple of years. Therefore, the two-time Pro Bowler will soon receive a new contract extension.

Sportac placed his market value at $14.4 million per season. That would put him behind Darren Waller and George Kittle at the third spot among tight ends, less than $100,000 above Travis Kelce. The superstar tight end makes a little more than Dallas Goedert and Mark Andrews.

The exact salary is always dependent on when a player signs his deal, as the next guy often tops the last one. Like the other five players, Hockenson deserves to be paid in that $14-17 million range.

$9.4 million is his salary in 2023, playing under the fifth-year option picked up by the Lions a year ago. That ranks him 11th at his position in the NFL – a bargain. Adofo-Mensah could even lower his cap hit by extending him and ripping up the option.

Vikings Depth Chart, Week 13 vs. Jets
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson made it very clear that he wants to be with the franchise for the long run, but he must receive a fair contract:

That’s not really anything I’m focused on, it is what it is. I think that’s no secret that it’s coming up, but that’s not a focus that I’m worried about. I’m just out here playing football, having fun with the guys, really enjoying the city of Minneapolis and trying to get around those fans. This is a place I want to be, just everything needs to work out. I hope to be here for a long time, but on the same hand it is a business. It’s great to be here right now.

T.J. Hockenson

The Vikings and Hockenson’s camp began contract talks a while ago and are expected to intensify later in the summer, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.

Minnesota added Josh Oliver, a tight end, in free agency. He will make an average of $7 million over three seasons which is a significant amount for a backup tight end. However, the two are expected to be on the field together frequently. Oliver is a fantastic blocker which will help Hockenson in his pursuit to rack up receiving yards as a true second option in his second season in the system.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt