Vikings Wiggled a Caveat into T.J. Hockenson’s Contract

Hockenson Contract
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings made T.J. Hockenson the wealthiest tight end in NFL history last week, penning a deal with the 26-year-old for four years and $68.5 million.

Vikings Wiggled a Caveat into T.J. Hockenson’s Contract

Hockenson now ranks at the top of the NFL’s list of highest-paid tight ends per average annual salary ($17.125M) and sets the market for future TE deals. He’s the standard until next March or so.

And while doing so, Minnesota wiggled a little caveat into the deal — a void year to prepare for the future.

Wiggled a Caveat
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

Star Tribune‘s Ben Goessling tweeted Tuesday, “T.J. Hockenson’s deal with the Vikings includes a void year for 2028.”

Here’s the deal structure:

  • 2023: $5M
  • 2024: $14.1M
  • 2025: $15.1M
  • 2026: $19.6M
  • 2027: $21.6M
Hockenson Stuff
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Pro Football FocusBrad Spielberger added context to the Goessling tweet, “Good detail. For those wondering why there’d be an empty void year at the outset (can only prorate money a max of five years), that’s so it’s already in place when they inevitably look to restructure down the road.”

What does this mean? Well, Vikings general manager basically knows he’ll restructure the deal sometime in the next four years, and now the 2028 season, a void year, can be used as a landing spot for the funds. The tactic makes it easier for the Vikings to move money around when needed to clear cap space for something [someone] else.

Burn the Tape
Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports.

Some Vikings and NFL fans despise the void-years strategy because it “kicks the can down the road” for budgetary planning. Yet, all this Hockenson detail does is allow for the possibility. Adofo-Mensah does not know at this moment what will be on his plate in 2025, for example, but now Hockenson’s contract can be a go-to spot for maneuverability.

Onboarding the 26-year-old via trade last season utterly revamped the Vikings 2022 offense, adding a target for quarterback Kirk Cousins in the middle of the field. Opposing defensive coordinators increasingly focused on Hockenson’s Offensive Player of the Year teammate, Justin Jefferson, so Hockenson felt like a godsend.

Overhauled Teams
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson produced 60 receptions for 519 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns in 10 games with the Vikings — not a bad opening salvo. Moreover, spread throughout an entire regular season and per-target basis, Hockenson could’ve — and still might in 2023 — tabulate a 100+ catch, 1000+ yard season in Minnesota.

The Vikings received Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick (Jay Ward), and a 2024 fourth-round pick while giving up a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder last November in a deal with the rival Detroit Lions.

Minnesota is expected to extend Hockenson’s teammate, Jefferson, for the long haul before too long, but the timeline is curiously brushing up quite close to the regular season.

Hockenson and his pals host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium to kick off 2023.


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