Vikings Confirm Extension Plans for $20 Million Pro Bowler

O'Connell, Cousins, Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings watches during warmups alongside quarterback Kirk Cousins prior to a game against the Chicago Bears in January 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings have yet to lock up multiple playmakers on long-term extensions, but those deals are coming.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah essentially confirmed that a contract of some sort is on the way for two-time Pro-Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson, for whom the Vikings traded ahead of last year’s deadline. Alec Lewis of The Athletic reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday, July 25, following a team press conference.

“Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah also said he spoke recently with TE T.J. Hockenson’s representatives,” Lewis tweeted. “Said that the team is going to find a long-term solution for him.”

T.J. Hockenson Poised for Payday From Vikings That Will Make Him Among Richest Tight Ends in NFL

GettyTight end T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after making a catch against the New York Giants during an NFC Wild Card playoff game in January 2023. 

Hockenson finished the final season of his four-year, $19.8 million rookie contract in Minnesota in 2022 after three and a half seasons with the Detroit Lions. The Lions previously exercised their fifth-year option on the tight end, which keeps the former No. 8 overall pick under contract with the Vikings through 2023 following last year’s trade. Hockenson will earn $9.4 million during the upcoming campaign.

Despite representing a sizable raise, the salary Hockenson earns in 2023 is likely to pale in comparison to the deal he will sign with Minnesota should Adofo-Mensah live up to the comments he made Tuesday about keeping the tight end around “long-term.”

Precisely how much Hockenson will get is hard to say, and it could be affected by what is expected to be a record contract-extension for All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson, either this summer or sometime next offseason. The best way to put a reasonable guess on Hockenson’s price tag is to examine the TE market around the NFL and compare.

The highest-paid player at the position in terms of overall contract value is San Francisco 49ers star George Kittle, who has a $75 million deal in place that pays him $15 million annually, according to Over The Cap. Darren Waller, who just signed an extension with the New York Giants, leads all tight ends in annual average salary (AAS) at $17 million per season, though his is a three-year contract.

Cole Kmet of the Chicago Bears, who hasn’t put up the same kind of statistical production over three years that Hockenson has consistently produced over four NFL seasons, inked a four-year extension worth $50 million on Wednesday.

Hockenson will be looking for maximum value, both in terms of years and AAS. Spotrac projects his market value at $15.5 million annually over a four-year contract, which totals $62 million over the life of the deal.

Vikings Tight End T.J. Hockenson Put Up Career Year in 2022

T.J. Hockenson, Vikings

GettyTight end T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings.

Hockenson earned the second of two career Pro-Bowl nods in 2022 and figures to be a significant piece of the Vikings’ offense over the next several years, whether it is quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing him the football or someone else.

The tight end hauled in 86 catches for 914 yards and six touchdowns in 2022, including 60 catches for 519 yards and three touchdowns across 10 games with the Vikings, per Pro Football Reference. His catch and yardage totals were career-highs, while his six scores tied a career-high mark set in 2020.

Hockenson has proven relatively durable in the NFL, appearing in 57 of a possible 66 regular season games over his four-year tenure and starting 49 of those contests. The Vikings are also incentivized to ink the TE long-term after trading a second-round pick and a third-round pick to the Lions to acquire him last year.

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