T.J. Hockenson Won’t Be Cheap

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.

There will be a lot of buzz about potential contract extensions in the upcoming weeks. Still on his rookie deal, Justin Jefferson is expected to sign an agreement that makes him a record-breaking salary. Star defender Danielle Hunter is unhappy with his contract that only pays $5.5 million in 2023, a low number for a Pro Bowl edge rusher. He also demands a different deal.

T.J. Hockenson Won’t Be Cheap

Be Cheap
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.

The third top player on the team who could receive a new and expensive contract is tight end T.J. Hockeson. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acquired him right before the trade deadline approached during the 2022 season, and he has been a phenomenal addition.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The tight end has earned a new contract, and he will likely get one. Evan Engram and the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed on a new contract, paying the 28-year-old $41.25 million ($24 million guaranteed) for three seasons. Engram enjoyed his breakout season in Jacksonville after the Giants moved on from him.

In his only season in Jacksonville, Engram logged 73 catches for 766 yards and 4 touchdowns in the regular season, and he added 12 catches for 124 yards and 1 score in the two postseason games. The receptions and yards were both a career-high.

Oct 16, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Evan Engram (17) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (59) and linebacker Zaire Franklin. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

His annual salary of $13.75 million ranks Engram as the sixth-highest-paid tight end.

  1. Darren Waller – $17,000,000
  2. George Kittle – $15,000,000
  3. Travis Kelce – $14,312,500
  4. Dallas Goedert – $14,250,000
  5. Mark Andrews – $14,000,000
  6. Evan Engram – $13,750,000
  7. David Njoku – $13,687,500
  8. Dawson Knox – $13,000,000
  9. Hunter Henry/Jonnu Smith $12,500,000

Hockenson is under contract for another year because the Lions picked up his fifth-year option in the 2022 offseason. It is now on the two parties – the Vikings and the player – to find a fair new contract value.

An important aspect of salary numbers is that the new deals are usually higher than those signed last year and the year before. The reason for that is the rising salary cap in the NFL.

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 should be slotted in somewhere on the list. That list is a little nitpicky, as the difference between The 3rd and the 10th is just over $1.8 million. Goedert is a comparable player but signed his contract during the 2021 season. Hockenson’s salary will probably rank him somewhere in the range between Waller and Goedert. An annual salary of $15 million should be expected.

Paying tight ends is becoming more common, and there’s a reason. NFL teams realized those tight ends are just as valuable as wide receivers (Kelce’s status as Mahomes’ top weapon helped) but are much cheaper than the top WRs.

A solid blocker and an excellent target for Kirk Cousins, the tight end is a key piece for the organization’s future. He is the secondary option in the passing game until a wideout like Jordan Addison usurps him.

Hockenson turned 26 in July.

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