The Minnesota Vikings have spent much of this offseason trimming the budget, but that’s all about to change.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported on Thursday, June 15, that the franchise intends to extend tight end T.J. Hockenson on a long-term contract, though it could still be a matter of weeks before those talks significantly heat up. The Vikings traded with the Detroit Lions for Hockenson ahead of the 2022 deadline.
The free agent signing of tight end Josh Oliver, who was fully guaranteed $8.2 million, raised eyebrows about the Vikings’ long-term commitment to Hockenson. Since then, however, it has become clear that coach Kevin O’Connell wants two viable tight ends to maximize his scheme. O’Connell said that pairing Oliver and Hockenson “actually gets you really excited about how versatile we can be … [and how] we can reinvent ourselves in staying true to our football philosophy.”
While the Vikings’ financial attention has been occupied elsewhere this offseason, most notably in a complicated contract negotiation with All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson, it’s clear they plan to address Hockenson’s deal as well. Progress is more likely to take place later this summer.
T.J. Hockenson Positioned to Earn 2nd-Largest TE Contract in NFL History From Vikings
The Lions selected Hockenson with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The University of Iowa product played out the fourth year of his $19.8 million rookie deal last season. However, as a first-round selection, the Vikings have Hockenson under contract through 2023 on a fifth-year team option that will pay the tight end just shy of $9.4 million for the year.
Spotrac projects Hockenson’s market value at $14.4 million per season across a four-year contract, for a total value of more than $57.7 million. The projection appears relatively accurate to scale, as it would be the second-largest tight end contract in history behind the five-year, $75 million agreement George Kittle signed with the San Francisco 49ers two years ago.
Hockenson earned the second Pro-Bowl nod of his four-year NFL career last season after amassing 86 catches for 914 yards and six touchdowns. A total of 60 of those catches, along with 519 yards and three scores, came during his 10 games with the Vikings, per Pro Football Reference.
Vikings Expected to Extend Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson on Record Deal
While Hockenson is likely to be wildly expensive to extend, his pass-catching counterpart on the outside of the offense figures to sign an historic contract extension sooner than later.
Jefferson is a three-time Pro Bowler who earned a first-team All-Pro nod in 2022 after leading the NFL in both catches (128) and receiving yards (1,809). Those totals also broke all-time franchise records.
The wideout will play the fourth season of his four-year, $13.1 million rookie deal in 2023. Minnesota exercised its fifth-year team option on the former first-rounder’s contract, locking Jefferson in through 2024 at the price of $19.7 million.
Jefferson is pushing for a contract extension now, as his value is at an all-time high. The longer the team waits, the greater the risk of the receiver losing leverage due to either reduced production or an injury issue.
The Vikings currently have north of $17.8 million in salary cap space after cutting running back Dalvin Cook earlier this month. The team could clear more room by trading pass rusher Danielle Hunter, should it choose to travel down that path.