Vikings Regime Fires Up 1st Massive Contract Extension

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.

The wait is finally over. With just over a week to go before the 2023 season kicks off, the Minnesota Vikings have finalized their first major long-term contract extension since the new regime was hired in 2022.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson will stay with the organization beyond the 2023 season.

Vikings Regime Fires Up 1st Massive Contract Extension

Hockenson entered training camp with the expectation to sign a new deal sooner rather than later as he was scheduled to play under his fifth-year option and hit free agency after the 2023 season.

Vikings Regime Fires Up 1st Massive Contract Extension
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.

An ear infection and a back injury were the official reason why he didn’t participate in practices but some folks started to speculate if the contract negotiations were the reason for that. All of those thoughts will disappear now because the tight end signed his new contract, according to Tom Pelissero on X:

“The Vikings and T.J. Hockenson agreed to terms on a contract extension that makes him one of the NFL’s highest-paid tight ends, sources tell me and @RapSheet. Acquired from Detroit last fall, Hockenson has flourished in Minnesota. Now sticking around for the long haul.”

Hockenson signed a four-year, $68.5 million contract and is the highest-paid tight end ever, according to Adam Schefter. Truly a huge contract.

Feb 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; NFC tight end T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings (87) runs the ball against AFC cornerback Pat Surtain II of the Denver Broncos (2) at the 2023 Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports.

The previous top earner per average annual salary via Over The Cap was Giants’ tight end Darren Waller whose deal is set at $17 million per season. He is followed by George Kittle at $15 million, Trevis Kelce at just over $14.3 million, Dallas Goedert at $14.25 million, and Mark Andrews at $14 million.

The Viking will make an average of $17.125.000 over four seasons. That is how the NFL works with increasing cap numbers. The next guy in line to get an extension signs a record-breaking deal. Someone will likely pass him next year. Hockenson was acquired via trade right before last year’s trade deadline and it was the first huge deal of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s tenure.

Hockenson played a wonderful season after joining the Vikings and has now been rewarded for it. Just a few days in the building, without having a real grasp of the playbook, Hockenson caught all nine of his targets for 70 yards in his Vikings debut against the Commanders – a game Minnesota probably would’ve lost if not for his receptions, some in crucial moments.

How Huge Can Thomas Jane Hockenson Be for Minnesota?
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Throughout the season, Hockenson ranked second among all tight ends in receiving yards, only trailing superstar Travis Kelce. He had 70 receptions for 648 yards and 3 scores in his 11 games with the Vikings – ten in the regular season and one in the playoffs – despite playing in a couple of blowout losses and a Week 18 matchup in which he barely played.

His best effort came against the Giants in the postseason when the defense focused on Jefferson. Hockenson caught ten passes for 129 yards, unfortunately resulting in a loss, but the former 8th overall pick still had an outstanding game.

Paying tight ends is becoming a common practice because teams realized that they are cheaper but just as effective as wideouts. Mark Andrew and Travis Kelce have been the top receivers on their respective teams for years. Rob Gronkowski allowed the Patriots to be competitive without having an elite receiver on the team.

Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The 26-year-old is now getting paid what he is worth but another Viking is still waiting for his deal. Receiver Justin Jefferson is under contract for two more seasons but should be locked up for even more as the unquestioned face of the franchise. His record-breaking career start will earn him a record-breaking contract.

Hockenson will continue to handle the duties as the team’s top receiver in the middle of the field while Jefferson and rookie Jordan Addison are the outside threats. Once Jefferson’s deal is done, the trio is under contract for many years to come, building a strong foundation for a potential quarterback of the future.

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