Minnesota surprised the NFL universe on Tuesday when they procured former Pro-Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions. The Lions had not dealt a player to a division rival in nearly 25 years.
The Vikings sent the Lions a second-round pick in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024 in exchange for Hockenson. Minnesota also received a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2024, which becomes a fifth-round selection should the Vikings win a playoff game this postseason, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Cousins reacted to the news on Tuesday via his personal Twitter account.
“Looks like we just got a new option at tight end,” Cousins wrote.
Vikings Expected to Deal For Receiver, Go For Hockenson Instead
Whether the Vikings were looking for a tight end leading up to the deadline remains unclear. One thing is for certain, though, they were interested in picking up another weapon for Cousins.
Most of the chatter in Minnesota involved making a deal for another wide receiver capable of stretching the field to pair alongside star wideout Justin Jefferson. Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans was the name mentioned most frequently.
The Vikings aren’t necessarily done adding to their roster now that no more trades can be made for the remainder of the season. Free agency is an option all year long, and several receivers remain available on the market. The most prominent among them is Odell Beckham Jr., who has been linked to Minnesota and who is expected to be healthy enough to return to game action sometime between mid-November and December.
Beckham has a solid relationship with both Beckham and head coach Kevin O’Connell, while the Vikings offer the wideout what he says he’s looking for in potential suitors — a contending team that can offer him a chance to produce through a deep playoff run.
Vikings’ Trade For T.J. Hockenson Came at Expense of Irv Smith Jr.
Regardless of when the opportunity came up to land Hockenson, the need for him in Minnesota butted right up against the deadline.
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. suffered an ankle injury against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, which is expected to sideline the third-year player for the next 8-10 weeks. Two days later, Hockenson became a member of the Vikings and is very possible that come next year, Smith no longer will be.
Smith was having a solid season in 2022, making 22 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. Still, Cousins wasn’t getting much out of the tight end spot this season.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Cousins has been 30th in QBR and 33rd in yards per attempt when throwing to tight ends this season. That’s out of a total of just 33 quarterbacks who have played enough to qualify.
Hockenson, a fourth-year player out of the University of Iowa, has caught 43 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns in seven game appearances this year. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2020 after catching 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.