“TJ Hockenson is signing a four-year, $68.5 million contract extension that resets the tight end market, source tells ESPN,” Adam Schefter posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday, August 31. “The $17.125 million annual average and $42.5 million guarantee are the highest for a tight end in NFL history.”
Acquired in a trade with the Detroit Lions at the trade deadline last November, Hockenson was the second-most targeted tight end after arriving in Minnesota. He finished the season ranked second in catches (86) and receiving yards (914) behind only Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce.
Hockenson was entering the final year of his rookie contract for the 2023 season before reaching a new deal with the Vikings.’
Contract talks did not bring any deal to fruition throughout the offseason as Hockenson entered training camp without a new deal. The Athletic’s senior insider Diana Russini reported during camp that Hockenson wanted to reset the tight end mark with his new deal.
Once the deal is finalized, Hockenson will have done just that, surpassing Darren Waller‘s $17 million average annual value on his contract. Hockenson’s $42.5 million guarantee also surpassed George Kittle‘s $40 million in guarantees he agreed to in 2021.
Vikings Commit to the Future of Franchise
Adopting a “competitive rebuild” philosophy to the franchise, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hasn’t been generous at the negotiating table.
Adofo-Mensah did not commit to Kirk Cousins or Danielle Hunter long-term and let star defenders Za’Darius Smith and Dalvin Tomlinson go to free up cap space for the future. Adofo-Mensah had yet to award a multiyear deal to a player at a premier position before Hockenson.
The future building blocks in Minnesota are all on offense, and clearing cap space to support those contracts has been the goal in the offseason. Hockenson figured to be first as he entered a contract year.
Meanwhile, Justin Jefferson‘s deal could be done before the start of the regular season. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw is the third rising star in Minnesota who the new regime should prioritize securing long-term.
The offensive trio should be the foundation of the Vikings’ vision for the franchise as they rebuild continue to rebuild the rest of the roster.
Vikings Creating Ideal Situation for Next QB
The Hockenson extension showed the Vikings are interested in keeping their stars around long-term, which should bode well when Minnesota has to move on from Cousins.
Cousins is in the final year of his contract and the Vikings will have to move off an expensive quarterback to sign its emergent talent elsewhere. Cousins could stick around for a few more years, but it’s unlikely he will stay in Minnesota beyond 2024.
When the day comes when Cousins isn’t in purple and gold, a developmental prospect at quarterback will be in good hands in Minnesota.
And a quarterback-friendly coach like Kevin O’Connell should make Minnesota an ideal place to develop the franchise’s next quarterback.