There’s a New Twist in T.J. Hockenson Contract Talks

Week 16 vs
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings still have contract extensions for Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson to complete on a front-office checklist, and the plot thickened on Wednesday.

Put bluntly, Hockenson, in particular, won’t be cheap.

There’s a New Twist in T.J. Hockenson Contract Talks

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini tweeted Wednesday, 18 days before the start of the regular season, “The Vikings and tight end T.J. Hockenson have been working on an extension, but both sides are far apart, per league sources. Hockenson wants to reset the market with a historic contract extension for tight ends. He has been limited at practice because of an ear infection and back soreness.”

Hockenson Contract
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

And while nobody believed Hockenson would remain with the Vikings on a team-friendly deal or anything close to it, ‘resetting the market’ is a new twist.

This is the current lay of the land for NFL TE contracts, per average annual value:

  • Darren Waller$17 million
  • George Kittle$15 million
  • Travis Kelce$14.3 million
  • Dallas Goedert$14.2 million
  • Mark Andrews$14 million
Vikings TE Gets
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

If Hockenson truly wants to uphold Russini’s reset the market edict, the Vikings would be looking at a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of four years and $70 million, with the guaranteed money undetermined. ‘Resetting the market’ doesn’t typically involve the third-highest salary in the sport, as an example.

Hockenson said this week about remaining on the sidelines with the ear infection mentioned by Russini, “It sucks, but it is what it is. It’s really just making me want to be out there more with the guys. I’ll be ready to go in September, and that’s really when I need to be.”

Burn the Tape
Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports.

He was also asked if his contract was preventing his participation in practice, and he replied, “No, that’s not my focus. My focus is to be out here with these guys on Sept. 9 or whatever it is. Be ready for September and be ready for game day on Sunday.”

Hockenson also said last November upon arriving in Minnesota, “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

So, the man certainly has the desire to be a Viking for a long time; he just won’t do it on a modest price tag.

Adding Hockenson to the roster at last year’s trade deadline totally revamped the Vikings 2022 offense, creating 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.

Hockenson Stuff
Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs defends against Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson during the first half of the Lions’ 34-23 win over the Vikings on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, at Ford Field. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

He 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. That’s the goal.

We shall see if he does so as the NFL’s highest-paid tight end. That’s evidently the ask.

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).

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