With the news that Irv Smith Jr. may miss time with a high-ankle sprain, the Minnesota Vikings made a move ahead of the NFL’s 4 p.m. Eastern trade deadline on November 1.
The Vikings are trading for Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson, ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported.
The Vikings sent the Lions a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick in exchange for Hockenson and conditional fourth-round picks in the next two drafts, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
The eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Hockenson earned Pro Bowl honors in his second season, in 2020. He caught 67 passes for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns that season as the Lions’ leading pass catcher.
But amid Detroit’s bad start to the season, the Lions (1-6) dealt him to Minnesota.
Hockenson will join Johnny Mundt, Jacob Hollister and Smith in the Vikings tight end room upon the deal being finalized.
Vikings Push Chips in By Acquiring T.J. Hockenson
The Vikings, off to their best start since 2009, had been quiet approaching the trade deadline. There were questions about whether first-year general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, would mortgage his vision for the franchise’s future after deciding to keep the roster intact this offseason.
Adofo-Mensah made a statement that the team has every intention of riding its wave of success this season by acquiring Hockenson.
Hockenson will be brought in as a reliable deep threat who can stretch the field — a role Justin Jefferson has shouldered for the first eight weeks of the season.
Hockenson is averaging a career-high 15.2 yards per reception this season and has posted an 11.1 average yards per catch in his career.
At 6-foot-4, Hockenson has an elite 37.5-inch vertical he used to his advantage in college at Iowa.
“In a draft that feels light on high-end talent, Hockenson is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game. He should continue to fill out his athletic frame, but he’s already a sound in-line blocker with the toughness to sustain and finish,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in 2019. His above-average athleticism and separation burst will help him win against linebackers while his body control and hands give him an advantage over safeties. Hockenson has standout talent and fits any scheme, but he could be coveted early by teams looking to delve more heavily in 12-personnel (two TE packages).
Oddly enough, an NFC scout compared Hockenson to Smith, predicting the Iowa product to go off the board earlier than Smith.
“Freaky athlete. I thought he would go back, but I’m glad he didn’t. I think he will beat Alabama’s (Irv Smith Jr.) off the board first,” an NFC pro personnel director told Zierlien.
Irv Smith Jr. May Be Playing in His Final Season for Vikings
Smith, who was the third tight end taken in the 2019 draft, behind Hockenson and Noah Fant, is on the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.
The Vikings have the benefit of getting an extra year from Hockenson, who has a fifth-year option in his contract, which are eligible only for first-round picks.
With a star tight end on the team’s cap sheet, it’s unlikely Minnesota can give Smith a better deal than other suitors.
However, he could take a team-friendly contract come this offseason.