The 2019 first-round pick took a bit to get rolling, but he established himself as one of the league’s better tight ends in 2020. Hockenson earned a Pro Bowl nod that season after hauling in 67 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns. With Matthew Stafford out of Detroit, the tight end’s numbers didn’t fall off too much in 2021 (61 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games), and the Lions ultimately picked up Hockenson’s fifth-year option after the season.
Now, the 25-year-old is in line for an extension. The fifth-year option means Hockenson is signed through the 2023 season, but it sounds like Detroit won’t be wasting any time locking in one of their top players.
There’s a good chance Hockenson will exceed a $10MM AAV with his next deal, as 10 tight ends (11 if you include Taysom Hill) currently top that mark. Unfortunately for the Lions and Hockenson, some of the notable tight end negotiations this offseason didn’t lead to extensions. Both Mike Gesicki and Dalton Schultz are set to play the upcoming campaign under the franchise tag, and their hypothetical extensions could have provided some clarity to the Lions and Hockenson during negotiations. The other TE to be tagged this offseason was David Njoku, whom the Browns signed to a new four-year, $54.75MM pact.
The Lions haven’t been shy about inking their top young players, as the front office signed center Frank Ragnow to a record-setting deal last May. We heard recently that many people around the NFL believed Hockenson would be next in line for an extension. There is less urgency due to the option, but Hockenson has expressed a willingness to stay in Detroit long-term, saying “I want to [win] here so bad.”