T.J. Hockenson Will End 42-Year Vikings Drought

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Barring injury, Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson will make first-time-in-42-years franchise history in the next three weeks.

And it might even happen on Christmas Eve.

T.J. Hockenson Will End 42-Year Vikings Drought

The richest tight end in league history needs just 98 receiving yards to hit the 1,000 mark, and that’s only happened one time in Vikings history with a tight end — Joe Senser in 1981.

Hockenson Will End
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Others have gotten valiantly close, but Senser stands alone, at least for the next few days. Here’s the TE lay of the land in Vikings history per yards in a single season:

  1. Joe Senser (1981) — 1,004 yards
  2. T.J. Hockenson (2023) — 902 yards
  3. Steve Jordan (1986) — 859 yards
  4. Kyle Rudolph (2016) — 840 yards
  5. Steve Jordan (1985) — 795 yards
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In 2022, Hockenson’s first [half] season in Minnesota, he produced 60 receptions for 519 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 10 games — not a bad opening salvo. Moreover, spread throughout an entire regular season and per-target basis, Hockenson could’ve — and will in 2023 — tabulated a 100+ catch, 1000+ yard season in Minnesota.

The offseason forecast suggesting Hockenson would have a sizable second act in Minnesota was correct. In fact, when Justin Jefferson was lost for seven games in October, one could argue Hockenson was a season saver.

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 in November 2022 in a deal with the rival Detroit Lions.

Needs a Serious
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Too, the 27-year-old took a little heat at the beginning of the season. Hockenson fired up a couple of drops and failed to haul in every contested catch. Correspondingly and predictably, a small sect of Vikings fans screamed that Hockenson’s contract wasn’t worth it. The theory claimed Hockenson, at his lofty pricetag, should catch absolutely every ball in his vicinity.

Fast forward to Week 16, and those naysayers quieted, and the heat-of-the-moment panic was stupid. Hockenson is one of the NFL’s most productive tight ends in 2023, neck and neck with Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) and Sam LaPorta (Detroit Lions). The Iowa alumnus is worth every penny and will be attached to the Vikings’ roster for the next four seasons.

Only 2 Options
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Meanwhile, Hockenson will chase Vikings history versus his old team. Minnesota plays Detroit twice in the next three weeks, with the Green Bay Packers in between, and if the Vikings win two of the contests, they’ll trot into the postseason.

So, write it down. Hockenson needs 98 yards to achieve a feat not accomplished in franchise history since 1981.

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 OverTheCap.com.