New Nickname for a New Viking — The Sears Tower

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Josh Oliver (84) runs for yards after the catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have oodles of nicknames among locker room mates, and quarterback Kirk Cousins has recently done his damnedest to assign a new one.

The recipient is Josh Oliver, a newcomer free-agent tight end who joined the Vikings in March.

New Nickname for a New Viking — The Sears Tower

And so far, the return on investment for Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been tremendous to the tune of the NFL’s top TE, according to Pro Football Focus.

New Nickname
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Josh Oliver (84) runs after the catch as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (35) makes the tackle and linebacker Anthony Nelson (98) moves in to assist during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Equipped with the fancy performance on the field, especially via run- and pass-blocking, Cousins told reporters Wednesday about Oliver, “I call him the Sears Tower. He’s a big target, friendly target, great athleticism, and great blocker in both run game and pass game.”

The Sears Tower in Chicago is now the Willis Tower, but you get the point.’s Gabe Henderson talked with new Minnesota Vikings tight end Josh Oliver after he was signed by the team during 2023 NFL free agency. Oliver is on deck to serve as the Vikings TE2 in 2023 behind TE1 T.J. Hockenson.

When Oliver became a Viking about seven months ago, many fans greeted the move with a “What are you doing?” mentality toward Vikings management. Minnesota employed T.J. Hockenson, Johnny Mundt, and Nick Muse on the depth chart, and tight end was not on the shopping list, at least not per fans.

But then The Sears Tower arrived in the regular season and has fundamentally delivered, proving initial naysayers wrong.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Josh Oliver (84) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Per PFF, these are the NFL’s Top 10 tight ends heading into Week 5:

  1. Josh Oliver (89.5)
  2. Andrew Ogletree (81.4)
  3. Sam LaPorta (78.8)
  4. Will Dissly (78.0)
  5. Noah Fant (77.8)
  6. Jake Ferguson (77.7)
  7. George Kittle (76.5)
  8. Travis Kelce (73.9)
  9. T.J. Hockenson (72.7)
  10. Evan Engram (72.1)

Most of Oliver’s damage is machine-like for dirty work. To date, he’s grabbed 7 receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown, so it’s not like he’s tossing up Hockensonian numbers in the passing game. But via run- and pass-blocking, Oliver’s performance to begin his Vikings career is unparalleled among tight ends.

Here’s an example:

And the blocking is for a Vikings team that needs all the help it can get on the ground and keeping the aforementioned Cousins upright. Kevin O’Connell’s group refused to run the rock in Weeks 1 and 2, righting the ship in the past two weeks, largely because of men like Oliver.

Vikings TE Josh Oliver on March 16th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota. Oliver signed with the Vikings as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens for three years and $21 million.

The road for the Vikings and The Sears Tower gets bumpier this weekend. After knocking off the lowly Carolina Panthers in Week 4, the Kansas City Chiefs roll into Minneapolis, presumably with Taylor Swift at their side, to challenge the Vikings. Kansas City is a four-point favorite.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by