Did the Vikings Just Sign the Best Tight End in Team History?

Week 16 vs
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The Minnesota Vikings traded for T.J. Hockenson during the 2022 NFL season. With Kirk Cousins needing more offensive weapons, he represented the top tier of available options. Now locked into a long-term deal, is he the best tight end Minnesota has ever rostered?

Did the Vikings Just Sign the Best Tight End in Team History?

Before we give Steve Jordan a word and pump the breaks, best is certainly a subjective term. T.J. Hockenson is still a spring chicken relative to NFL resumes, and while he has played in 57 games, the counting stats still need to accumulate. That said, the sport has advanced well beyond the additional bookended being a loafing blocker, and a player like Hockenson epitomizes what you’d like to see from an athleticism standpoint.

Tight End
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Jordan was a seventh-round pick that turned his career into an extensive 176 games with the Vikings. He racked up 28 touchdowns over the course of a 13-year career, and he left with more than 6,300 yards to his credit. Jordan played professionally from the time he was 21 until he was 33, but his career ended following the 1994 season, which places it in an entirely different era. Still, the best tight end in Vikings history has to be the guy who fathered superstar talent, Cameron Jordan.

Now, when considering best and accounting for athleticism and the current game, Hockenson comes into the picture. Minnesota fans have long clamored for the breakout of Irv Smith Jr., and while he had the athletic profile you’d dream of stretching the field, his inability to stay on it cost him. Hockenson is the 100th percentile of what you’d hope to accomplish from a drafted player at the position, and although he wasn’t taken by Minnesota, the grabbed him for a sufficient pick.

Vikings Depth Chart, Week 13 vs. Jets
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Now locked into a four-year deal for just shy of $70 million, Hockenson will be in purple until he’s 30. He started a season after where Jordan did, but there should be plenty of belief he can accrue similar numbers. Hockenson has just over 2,500 yards to his credit thus far and now gets to play in an offense that boasts a strong starting quarterback and talented pair of wideouts. Hockenson should blow by 28 career touchdowns, with 18 to his credit already, and even having spent time in Detroit he can go down as an all-time Vikings great.

By the end of his Minnesota deal, Hockenson will have spent more time with the Vikings than the Lions. It remains to be seen how he’ll age or the contract will play out, but expecting him to be a security blanket for Kirk Cousins or whoever is next in line is a good bet. Tony Gonzalez transformed the tight end position for people like Rob Gronkowski to thrive and players like Hockenson to explode.

Right now, it’s probably not well-received to put Hockenson on a pedestal ahead of Steve Jordan or even Jim Kleinsasser, but when this deal is done, a better athlete could trump many on the NFL all-time lists. Rather than waiting on the next opportunity to develop an Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota went all in on the best version of what had already been afforded to them.

Hockenson Chatter
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Ring of Honor or not, Hockenson has a clear path to be the best tight end ever to wear purple, and he can certainly go down as the best to call U.S. Bank Stadium home. How much that matters for Kevin O’Connell’s club in the years ahead remains to be seen, but for now, it was worth backing up a Brinks truck.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.