Start, Bench, Cut: Vikings TE Edition

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings will be without one of their biggest offensive threats in T.J. Hockenson to start the 2024 season. How much time he’ll miss is largely up in the air, but Kevin O’Connell’s roster currently is flush with alternatives.

Start, Bench, Cut: Vikings TE Edition

Minnesota simply cannot maintain the number of tight ends it currently employs, and that means it’ll need to make some decisions. While it is possible that T.J. Hockenson avoids the PUP list, I’d put more money on him being out for the season rather than being back after just four games.

Regardless of how long the Vikings are without Hockenson’s services, the guys brought in to mitigate his absence will need to step up. So, what does that look like?

Start (2): Robert Tonyan and Josh Oliver

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports.

Josh Oliver is the remaining starting tight end, and he lined up plenty with Hockenson last year in two tight end sets. More of a blocker than a pass catcher, Oliver should be expected to keep a similar role this season. Even with Hockenson not available for the passing game, it isn’t as though Oliver’s skillset changed over the course of the offseason.

That’s where Robert Tonyan comes in. Once a favorite target of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Tonyan has found the end zone plenty during his NFL career. He went largely underutilized with the Chicago Bears last season, and being a pass-catching option for the Vikings offense this year could be beneficial for a career resurgence.

Bench (1): Johnny Mundt

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Another holdover from last season, Mundt has shown a capable ability in small sample sizes. O’Connell has always been familiar with him, and Mundt can be cycled in with Tonyan when the starter needs a blow. Nothing exceptional should be expected from the third-string option, but he’s a capable professional at this point in his career.

Cut (2): Trey Knox, Sammis Reyes,

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports.

Knox is an undrafted free agent who transferred from Arkansas as a wide receiver to the tight end position with South Carolina last year. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers in college and has largely flown under the radar. There probably is room on the practice squad for him. Reyes hasn’t played an NFL snap since 2021 with Washington. He likely won’t factor in for the Vikings, either.

That leaves both N’Keal Harry and Nick Muse on the bubble. If the Vikings want to carry four tight ends, then it will come down to one of them. The former is a converted wide receiver with first-round pedigree, and the latter is a name that has stuck with Minnesota for a couple of seasons. Neither should expect to present much upside, but that’s the battle here.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.