The Minnesota Vikings and tight end T.J. Hockenson are far apart on a contract extension, league sources told The Athletic on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Hockenson wants to reset the market with a historic contract extension for tight ends. He is in the final year of a four-year, $19.82 million deal.
- The two-time Pro Bowler has missed most of training camp with an ear infection and back soreness.
- Hockenson, originally drafted by the Detroit Lions, came over midway through last season in a trade. He had 60 receptions for 519 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games in Minnesota.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Where does this leave the Vikings?
Well, let’s first relay how we got here. The Vikings acquired Hockenson from the Lions prior to last year’s trade deadline. He needed four days to acclimate to the offense. He snagged nine catches for 70 yards in his first game with his new team and did not slow down. In fact, over the last nine weeks of the 2022 season (which is the timeframe during which he was with the Vikings), Hockenson was targeted more than all but six pass-catchers in the NFL. With all of that as a backdrop, Hockenson showed up to organized team activities and the early portion of training camp with no questions asked. He downplayed any focus on a contract extension, even though his contract is due to wrap up after this season. And the Vikings, meanwhile, expressed a clear interest in keeping him around as another weapon alongside Justin Jefferson.
Minnesota, though, knows it will have to pay Jefferson and, eventually, left tackle Christian Darrisaw. The quarterback situation also remains uncertain. Taken together, Hockenson’s wants place the team in a precarious position. If a deal is not consummated, Hockenson could play out the season, and the Vikings could consider franchise-tagging him next year. Or, Hockenson could move off of his ultimate want. Regardless, Minnesota has discussed its offense with him included and continues to do so. — Lewis
What’s next for Hockenson?
Hockenson said Monday that he expects to be active and ready to play Sept. 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has not practiced fully in recent weeks, however. Both he and coach Kevin O’Connell explained his initial absence as a byproduct of an ear infection that affected his equilibrium. On Wednesday, O’Connell added that Hockenson’s back stiffened in his ramp-up following the infection.
Neither Hockenson nor O’Connell has attributed his absence from practice to anything relating to contract talks. Still, the Vikings need Hockenson for their offense to progress in the way O’Connell has envisioned in this 2023 season. Hockenson matters for improved rushing efficiency and continued counteracting of the ways teams defend Jefferson. — Lewis
(Photo: Brad Mills / USA Today)