T.J. Hockenson

NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Hockenson

Rashan Gary is all set to debut in Week 1, completing his recovery from the ACL tear that ended his 2022 season in November. But the Packers will begin their top pass rusher on a pitch count to start the season, Matt LaFleur confirmed (via Packers Wire’s Zach Kruse). This could open the door for early-season Lukas Van Ness development. The Packers still roster Preston Smith, who is going into his fifth season with the team, and Van Ness contributed as an inside and outside rusher at Iowa. The team has versatile linebacker Justin Hollins and 2022 fifth-rounder Kingsley Enagbare, who became a primary starter after Gary went down last season, as options while Gary ramps up to a full workload.

Additionally on the Green Bay injury front, David Bakhtiari, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are viewed as game-time decisions for Sunday’s opener against the Bears. Bakhtiari, who has seen knee trouble sidetrack his career to a degree over the past two-plus years, is listed on the injury report with more knee trouble. He expects to play, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tweets. Both starting receivers are battling hamstring maladies and have not practiced this week. Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • As for tonight’s game, the Lions ruled out cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. Although Detroit activated Moseley off its active/PUP list before roster-cutdown day, the free agency addition underwent a second knee procedure this summer and was viewed as a long shot to start the year on time. Moseley is finishing up a recovery from an October 2022 ACL tear.
  • Isaiah Buggs started 13 games at nose tackle for last season’s Lions edition, but the veteran was informed in advance he would be a healthy scratch tonight, the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers notes. The Lions gave Buggs a two-year, $4.5MM deal in March but gave more snaps to rookie Brodric Martin and Benito Jones during camp. Buggs believes his lack of offseason attendance affected the team’s decision, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The former Steelers contributor said his wife giving birth led to him staying away during OTAs. Jones and Alim McNeill are expected to start in Kansas City, Birkett adds.
  • Going into free agency, the Bears did extensive work on Dre’Mont Jones, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Although the Bears carried plenty of cap space into free agency, they chose to stand down on Jones and spend for the likes of Tremaine Edmunds, Nate Davis, T.J. Edwards and DeMarcus Walker. The team later addressed its D-tackle needs in the draft, choosing three — Zacch Pickens (Round 2), Gervon Dexter (Round 3) and Travis Bell (Round 7) — on Day 2. This duo should be expected to play bigger roles down the line, but in Week 1, Justin Jones and Andrew Billings are slated to start. A four-year Broncos regular, Jones ended up with the Seahawks on a three-year, $51MM deal.
  • T.J. Hockenson‘s four-year, $66MM Vikings extension comes with $29.29MM fully guaranteed, according to OverTheCap. That number checks in fourth among tight ends — behind Kyle Pitts‘ rookie deal and the extensions for Mark Andrews and George Kittle. Hockenson’s 2024 base salary is fully guaranteed. His $10.9MM 2025 base salary is guaranteed for injury at signing, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who notes that number shifts to a full guarantee a year early (March 2024). The Vikings did not use the year-out guarantee structure for Hockenson’s 2026 setup, giving them more flexibility. Hockenson has $2.3MM of his 2026 base ($15.4MM) guaranteed for injury; it does not shift to a full guarantee until March 2026, giving the Vikings additional flexibility. Hockenson’s cap number will climb from $5MM this year to $14.1MM in 2024, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets.

Vikings, T.J. Hockenson Agree On Extension

11:01am: This move, in fact, will lead to Hockenson becoming the NFL’s highest-paid tight end. The Vikings are giving their starter a four-year, $68.5MM deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. That will make the AAV $17.13MM, which checks in just north of Waller’s previous position record. Hockenson’s guarantees dwarf Waller’s, however, with Schefter adding this extension comes with $42.5MM guaranteed. That likely accounts for the total guarantee here, rather than the guarantee at signing. Still, that number eclipses George Kittle‘s previous position high of $40MM.

The $68.5MM number may not be the base value here, per Pelissero, who adds the deal is worth $66MM over four years. Incentives can move the deal to that $68.5MM place. This would bump Hockenson down to the No. 2 slot for tight end AAV, at $16.5MM. But he has still done quite well on the through-2027 contract, with Pelissero echoing Schefter’s report on the guarantee figure. Negotiations between the Vikes and Hockenson did not alter this framework much, as Pelissero adds this is close to the deal that was on the table before camp.

10:04am: T.J. Hockenson‘s time as a Vikings practice spectator looks like it will come to an end. The Vikings are rewarding the 2022 trade acquisition with an extension, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report. The team has since announced the move.

While the ex-Lions top-10 pick was believed to be seeking a deal that made him the league’s highest-paid tight end, this agreement will move him close to the top of the market. Minnesota is making Hockenson “one of” the NFL’s top earners, per NFL.com. Hockenson, 26, was going into his fifth-year option season ($9.33MM).

This has been on Minnesota’s radar for a bit. Hockenson had loomed as a Detroit extension candidate coming into last season, but after a 1-6 start, the Lions dealt the 2019 draftee to a division rival for two Day 2 draft choices. Hockenson stepped in as a key Justin Jefferson complementary piece during the Vikings’ surprising 13-4 season. Although Minnesota is also talking with Jefferson about an extension ahead of his fourth season, Hockenson loomed as the priority due to his contract-year status.

One of many productive tight ends to come out of Iowa, the former No. 8 overall pick went through an inconsistent Lions career. Injuries limited him during multiple Detroit seasons, but he did showcase his talents with a 723-yard showing in Matthew Stafford‘s 2020 finale. But the Brad HolmesDan Campbell regime inherited Hockenson, a Bob Quinn-era draft choice. The Lions moved Hockenson on deadline day last year and have since replaced him with another ex-Hawkeyes standout, No. 34 overall pick Sam LaPorta.

In Minnesota, Hockenson finished up a 914-yard receiving season. The receiving tight end added a 10-reception, 129-yard day in the Vikings’ wild-card loss to the Giants. This year, Hockenson had missed training camp time due to an ear infection he said affected his equilibrium. The fifth-year pass catcher then complained of back stiffness. The 6-foot-5 tight end has not yet practiced with his teammates since camp began, with this stretch likely doubling as a hold-in measure amid negotiations.

Jefferson is poised to reset the wide receiver market, either this year or next, and it will be interesting to see the Hockenson numbers through that lens. The Vikings will soon have a top-market tight end deal and the NFL’s most lucrative receiver contract on their books. For a team that has Kirk Cousins on a big-ticket contract (complete with four void years), this represents a substantial commitment to its aerial centerpieces. That said, the Vikings moved Dalvin Cook‘s $12.6MM-per-year contract off their books this offseason, and the team only has one offensive lineman (right tackle Brian O’Neill) earning more than $6MM on average. Cousins’ contract also expires at season’s end. The Vikings are paying Hockenson (and soon Jefferson) to anchor their post-Cousins passing attack.

Darren Waller‘s $17MM sits atop the tight end salary spectrum, AAV-wise. This checks in well south of Tyreek Hill‘s receiver-leading number ($30MM). The Patriots holding Rob Gronkowski to his six-year contract, which quickly became a bargain, and Travis Kelce not raising the bar especially high on his second Chiefs extension in 2020 have led to the tight end market stagnating. Hockenson’s figure will make for a notable update, though it is interesting this deal does not appear set not top Waller’s. At this rate, it may still take years for tight ends to crack the $20MM-per-year barrier.

But the Vikings have one of their core passing-game pieces in place for the long haul. Minnesota’s upcoming Jefferson deal — assuming it advances past the goal line — will ensure Cousins (and his successor) will have a Jefferson-Hockenson-Jordan Addison arsenal at his disposal.

T.J. Hockenson Seeking Top-Market Deal

Justin Jefferson will be expected to push the wide receiver market past $30MM per year. His Vikings teammate looks to be interested in elevating a stagnant tight end market.

T.J. Hockenson has missed time due to multiple issues during Vikings training camp, but he is also going into a contract year with a team that traded for him at the 2022 deadline. The former top-10 pick wants to reset the tight end market, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini (on Twitter).

A Hockenson extension has been on Minnesota’s radar for a bit, team and player are not close on terms. Considering Hockenson’s ask, that should be expected. But the Vikings want to extend Hockenson, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com notes. The former Lions draftee is going into his fifth-year option season, being set to count $9.24MM on the Vikings’ cap sheet.

Although Hockenson is certainly not considered the game’s top tight end, the market has resided in a strange place due in part to the player who is. Travis Kelce probably could have driven the TE market close to $20MM per year, but he signed a Chiefs-friendly extension during the 2020 offseason. Kelce is tied to a four-year, $57.25MM contract. While the future Hall of Famer addressed the topic this offseason, it does not sound like he will push for a new deal. The top two TE AAVs belong to Darren Waller ($17MM) and George Kittle ($15MM).

Minnesota traded a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-rounder for Hockenson, taking back 2023 and 2024 fourths (the second becoming a fourth due to the Vikings not winning a 2022 playoff game) in the intra-NFC North swap. Hockenson is coming off his best season — an 86-catch, 914-yard, six-touchdown offering split with the two NFC North teams — but emerged as the Vikings’ No. 2 option behind Jefferson down the stretch. A Jefferson extension is on the Vikes’ radar — though, perhaps not this year — and that deal will most definitely top the receiver market. It would be interesting for the Vikings to authorize two market-topping deals at the pass-catching posts.

Then again, the below-market deals Kelce and, going farther back, Rob Gronkowski signed have led to this position falling well behind wideouts. In the not-too-distant future, a tight end will break the $20MM-AAV barrier. Kittle, Kelce, Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert are all signed through at least 2025, putting Hockenson as the current candidate to raise the ceiling.

Hockenson missed weeks of camp with an ear infection he said affected his equilibrium, Seifert adds, and is now sidelined after complaining of back stiffness. The Iowa product certainly could be labeled a hold-in, though he denied his missed practices are contract-related. Kevin O’Connell echoed that, indicating Hockenson has not brought up the contract matter to him.

No, that’s not my focus,” Hockenson said of his contract, via Seifert. “My focus is to be out here with these guys on Sept. [10] and be ready for September and be ready for game days on Sunday.”

If no extension commences this year, the Vikings would have the option of franchise-tagging Hockenson in 2024. Although no tight ends received the tag in March, three did in 2022. David Njoku signed an extension, while Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki played out their contracts and hit free agency (en route to modest deals).

Vikings Eyeing Extension For T.J. Hockenson

The Vikings have several talented pass catchers in line for lucrative extensions. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson is understandably dominating the headlines in that regard, and according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, the Jefferson negotiations are occupying the bulk of Minnesota’s attention at the moment (subscription required). Nonetheless, Seifert says that GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah plans to address tight end T.J. Hockenson‘s deal as well, even if that does not happen until later in the summer.

The Vikes acquired Hockenson via an intra-divisional swap with the Lions in advance of the 2022 trade deadline. In 10 regular season games in Minnesota, Hockenson posted 60 catches for 519 yards and three scores. His 8.7 yards per reception rate was somewhat disappointing in light of the 11.1 YPR average he enjoyed over 3+ years in Detroit, but that could be a result of small sample size noise and could improve with a full offseason of work in the Vikings’ offense. Hockenson demonstrated how explosive he can be in the club’s wildcard round loss to the Giants, racking up 10 catches (on 11 targets) for 129 yards.

Hockenson, who will turn 26 next month, is under club control through 2023 since Detroit exercised the fifth-year option of his rookie deal last April. He is due to earn $9.4MM for the upcoming season, which would represent something of a bargain given the current state of the TE market.

At present, 11 TEs are averaging $10MM or more per season, though that list includes Saints’ all-purpose weapon Taysom Hill. Spotrac estimates that Hockenson could score a contract with a $14.4MM AAV on the open market, a figure that would place him behind only the Giants’ Darren Waller and the 49ers’ George Kittle. Waller’s Raiders-constructed deal is comparatively light on guarantees, however, and Hockenson will likely be shooting for between $30MM-$40MM in guaranteed money (Kittle, the Ravens’ Mark Andrews, the Eagles’ Dallas Goedert, and the Bills’ Dawson Knox are the tight ends on non-rookie deals that feature guarantees in that range).

Pro Football Focus’ metrics considered Hockenson the 10th-best tight end in the league in 2022 despite subpar blocking grades. The Vikings did give Josh Oliver a notable free agent deal in March, and he offers plenty of blocking acumen. Plus, as Seifert writes, head coach Kevin O’Connell believes that pairing Hockenson and Oliver will allow his offense to live up to its full potential, and it does not appear that the Oliver signing impacts Hockenson’s future with the club in any way.

In related news, Craig Peters of the Vikings’ official website reports that recently-retired tight end Ben Ellefson will join the team’s staff in a hybrid role that will allow the Minnesota native to “explore coaching, scouting and player development opportunities.”

Lions Trade TE T.J. Hockenson To Vikings

An intra-NFC North trade is going down. The Lions are sending tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Acquired before the current Detroit regime arrived, Hockenson is under contract through 2023. Four picks are being exchanged in this deal. The Vikings are sending their division rivals a 2023 second-round pick and a 2023 third-rounder, Schefter tweets. The Vikings will receive Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-rounder and a conditional 2024 fourth. The Vikings announced the trade.

The Vikings are making this move in part because their current top tight end — Irv Smith Jr. — is set to miss time with a high ankle sprain. Hockenson, whom the Lions chose eighth overall in the 2019 draft, will be a higher-profile piece in the Vikings’ offense. At 6-1, the Vikings are dealing into their future asset war chest to add a key playmaker for Kirk Cousins. Smith is expected to be sidelined at least eight weeks, Schefter tweets, helping to explain the big price the Vikings will pay for an upgrade.

This trade comes months after the Vikings traded their No. 12 overall pick to the Lions, who moved up 20 spots to draft Jameson Williams. The Vikes have not shied away from intra-division moves under rookie GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Following the trade-down maneuver with the Lions, Adofo-Mensah traded back with the Packers in the second round, giving Green Bay the Christian Watson draft slot (No. 34 overall).

The Lions now have acquired future assets to help their rebuild. They now own two first-rounders and two seconds in the 2023 draft. Hockenson, 25, represented the final pass-catching piece from the Bob Quinn regime. The Lions had been linked to a possible Hockenson extension; instead, the Brad Holmes regime will start over at tight end.

Although various injuries have cropped up for Hockenson during his four-year Motor City run, he has not missed more than five games in a season. The Iowa product has a 700-plus-yard season on his resume (2020, his Pro Bowl campaign) and hauled in 61 passes for 583 yards and four touchdowns last season — a 12-game slate. This year, Hockenson has 26 receptions for 395 yards and three TDs. The 15.2-yard average, albeit in just seven games, represents by far a career-high mark for the 6-foot-5 pass catcher. Hockenson is tied to a $965K base salary and will be tethered to a fully guaranteed $9.39MM fifth-year option price in 2023.

Minnesota’s passing attack has featured steady Nos. 1 and 2 options for many years, with Justin Jefferson taking over for Stefon Diggs alongside Adam Thielen. The Vikings deployed Kyle Rudolph as their top tight end through the 2020 season and have seen some contributions from Smith. But the former second-rounder out of Alabama missed all of 2021 due to injury and is averaging just 7.6 yards per catch (22 receptions, 168 yards, two TDs) this season. Smith, who caught five touchdown passes in 2020, will move toward the fringes of Minnesota’s aerial hierarchy when he returns from injury. The second-generation NFLer is in a contract year.

At 6-1, the Vikings hold the NFC’s second-best record. They are 3.5 games up in the NFC North and have the tiebreaker over the Packers, who have won this division three years running. With the Packers scuffling and the Lions and Bears rebuilding, the red carpet is laid out for the Vikings to book their first home playoff game in five years. The franchise’s first-year regime parting with two Day 2 assets certainly signals it recognizes the opportunity here.

Lions TE T.J. Hockenson Discusses Trade Speculation

The Lions are sitting with the worst record in the NFL at 1-6, leading to speculation that the front office could shop their veterans prior to the trade deadline. T.J. Hockenson would be one of Detroit’s more valuable trade pieces, and there have been plenty of pundits who have hinted that the tight end could be on the move before Tuesday. However, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes that the Lions have not fielded any calls on Hockenson as of Friday.

Despite the Lions’ assertion that they’re not shopping Hockenson, that hasn’t stopped the player from joking about the situation.

“It’s just like, ‘Hey’d you hear I’m getting traded?'” Hockenson told Birkett of the trade rumors. “It’s more me laughing about it than anything. I mean, if that — like I said, I love everybody in this locker room, I love being here in Detroit. I mean, but more importantly and most importantly I love playing football and so I’m going to have the opportunity to do that and that’s really what my whole role in this entire league is to do is to play football. So as long as I have that opportunity I’m good.”

Per Birkett, Hockenson said he hasn’t talked to coach Dan Campbell or general manager Brad Holmes about the rumors, and he expects to stay in Detroit through the trade deadline. On the flip side, the tight end also understands that the NFL is a business and he’s one of the more appealing trade targets on his squad.

“Listen, I’m not stupid, I know what I can bring to another team and I know here that they could, if they want something, if they want to do things for the future then I’m not stupid in that sense,” Hockenson said. “It is a business and whatever they have to do upstairs they’re going to do. And that doesn’t — there’s no hard feelings about it. There’s no, ‘Hey, I don’t like him personally’ or anything about that. That’s just how it is. So I’m not dumb or naïve in that fact.”

The 25-year-old was on pace to set career-highs in 2021 before tearing the UCL in his thumb in December. In six games this year, he’s hauled in 23 receptions for 315 yards and three scores, although a lot of that production came in a Week 4 contest that saw him finish with eight receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Hockenson has a year-plus remaining on his contract, with a bit more than $500K still due in 2022 and $9.39MM due in 2023.

Lions Prioritizing Extension For TE T.J. Hockenson

An extension could be coming for T.J. Hockenson. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Lions are “expected to prioritize” an extension for the tight end over the next few months.

[RELATED: Extension Candidate: T.J. Hockenson]

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.”

Extension Candidate: T.J. Hockenson

Tight ends have been in plenty of headlines this offseason, as the position continues its recent upward financial trend. Aside from the players who were franchise tagged recently, one of the top candidates for a long-term deal is T.J. Hockenson.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old made a name for himself at Iowa, a college which has become a TE factory in recent years. He put up a modest 24 receptions during his first season there, facing stiff competition for targets in the form of Noah Fant. Still, he averaged over 13 yards per catch, a figure which – like all others – he was able to improve upon the following year.

In 2018, Hockenson turned 49 receptions into 760 yards and six touchdowns. Other than the touchdown total, his statistics outshone those of Fant; he also showcased the blocking ability which made him the most well-rounded TE in the 2019 draft class. To little surprise, he was given the Mackey Award at the end of the campaign.

Widely considered a lock to be a top-10 pick, the 6-foot-5, 248-pounder ended up going eighth overall to the  Lions. That made him the teams’ intended replacement for Eric Ebron, who had departed one year earlier after four seasons with the team. Hockenson showed promise as a rookie, dropping only two passes on 59 targets. His season came to a premature end, though, due to an ankle injury. Given the potential he flashed, and the central role he began to assume in the team’s offense, expectations were high for his second campaign.

2020 didn’t disappoint. Playing a full season, Hockenson was one of only five tight ends to receive 100 targets, putting up 67 catches (which ranked fourth at the position) for 723 yards (third) and six scores (tied for fifth). His performance backed up his draft pedigree and earned him his lone Pro Bowl nod to date.

Injuries became an issue once again last year, however. Hockenson found himself on season-ending IR in December, this time due to thumb surgery. By that point, he had still posted 583 yards and four touchdowns, cementing his status as Jared Goff’s favorite target. He also registered a career-high 84% snap share, setting up to be a pillar of the team’s offense for at least the next two seasons.

To no surprise, the Lions picked up Hockenson’s fifth-year option in April. That will give him a 2023 salary of $9.39MM, a sizable raise from the earnings of his rookie pact. He is now eligible for further long-term security, though, which should see him join the $10MM-per-year club at the position. Currently, 10 tight ends are at or above that mark (the total rises to 11 if one adds Taysom Hill, whose quarterbacking days with the Saints are believed to be over), including franchise tag recipients Mike Gesicki and Dalton Schultz.

The other TE to be tagged this offseason was David Njoku, whom the Browns have subsequently signed to a four-year, $54.75MM pact. That deal will no doubt loom large in future negotiations, including those between the Lions and Hockenson. Regardless of its weight, though, a sizable new contract could be coming soon for the latter.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that “many around the NFL” believe an extension will get done this summer. 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.” Doing so may become more likely, given the ascendancy of receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown late last season, coupled with the additions of former Pro Bowler DJ Chark in free agency and first-rounder Jameson Williams in the draft. Those three may eat into Hockenson’s target share, but they should help boost the team’s overall passing game.

A lucrative deal for Hockenson would mark the second straight offseason in which Detroit locked up one of its best young players. The team signed center Frank Ragnow to a record-setting deal last May, showing general manager Brad Holmes‘ willingness to make long-term commitments as early as possible. That eagerness seems to be reciprocated by Hockenson himself.

“I don’t really know much, [and] I don’t really care to know much” with respect to contract talks, he said. “When that time comes to sign a piece of paper, I’ll do that.”

2023 NFL Fifth-Year Option Results

Monday marked the deadline for NFL clubs to officially pick up their options on 2019 first-rounders. Fifth-year option seasons are no longer just guaranteed for injury — they’re now fully guaranteed, which makes these decisions a little tougher for teams.

Nineteen players had their options exercised, a tick up from 14 last year. Here’s the full rundown:

1. QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals – Exercised ($29.7MM)
2. DE Nick Bosa, 49ers: Exercised ($17.9MM)
3. DE Quinnen Williams, Jets: Exercised ($11.5MM)
4. DE Clelin Ferrell, Raiders: Declined ($11.5MM)
5. LB Devin White, Buccaneers: Exercised ($11.7MM)
6. QB Daniel Jones, Giants: Declined ($22.4MM)
7. DE Josh Allen, Jaguars: Exercised ($11.5MM)
8. TE T.J. Hockenson, Lions: Exercised ($9.4MM)
9. DT Ed Oliver, Bills: Exercised ($10.8MM)
10. LB Devin Bush, Steelers: Declined ($10.9MM)
11. OT Jonah Williams, Bengals: Exercised ($12.6MM)
12. LB Rashan Gary, Packers: Exercised ($10.9MM)
13. DT Christian Wilkins, Dolphins: Exercised ($10.8MM)
14. G Chris Lindstrom, Falcons: Exercised ($13.2MM)
15. QB Dwayne Haskins:
16. DE Brian Burns, Panthers: Exercised ($16MM)
17. DT Dexter Lawrence, Giants: Exercised ($10.8MM)
18. C Garrett Bradbury, Vikings: Declined ($13.2MM)
19. DT Jeffery Simmons, Titans: Exercised ($10.8MM)
20. TE Noah Fant, Seahawks: Exercised ($6.9MM; originally drafted by Broncos)
21. S Darnell Savage, Packers: Exercised ($7.9MM)
22. OT Andre Dillard, Eagles: Declined ($12.6MM)
23. OT Tytus Howard, Texans: Exercised ($13.2MM)
24. RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders: Declined ($8MM)
25. WR Marquise Brown, Cardinals: ($13.4MM; originally drafted by Ravens)
26. DE Montez Sweat, Commanders: Exercised ($11.5MM)
27. S Johnathan Abram, Raiders: Declined ($7.9MM)
28. DE Jerry Tillery, Chargers: Declined ($11.5MM)
29. DE L.J. Collier, Seahawks: Declined ($11.5MM)
30. CB Deandre Baker — N/A (released by Giants)
31. OT Kaleb McGary, Falcons: Declined ($13.2MM)
32. WR N’Keal Harry, Patriots: Declined ($12.4MM)

Lions Pick Up TE T.J. Hockenson’s Fifth-Year Option

As expected, the Lions have locked in tight end T.J. Hockenson through the 2023 season. Tim Twentyman of the team’s website tweets that the Lions have picked up Hockenson‘s fifth-year option. The move will attach the tight end to a $9.39MM salary for the 2023 campaign.

This seemed to be the expected move after the two sides didn’t agree to an extension. We learned earlier this month that the Lions were expected to pick up the fifth-year option, but only as a placeholder as they looked to extend the Pro Bowler.

The eight-overall pick in the 2019 draft has emerged as one of Detroit’s top targets. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2020 after hauling in 67 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns, and he followed that up with 583 yards and four scores in 12 games in 2021. Thumb surgery ultimately shelved him in December of last year.

The Lions still have plenty of time to extend Hockenson. Last year, we saw the Patriots sign Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to deals that averaged $12.5MM per year, and Dallas Goedert later one-upped the duo by inking a deal worth $14.25MM AAV. The league’s highest-paid TEs, George Kittle and Travis Kelce, clock in a bit above that at $15MM and $14.3MM, respectively.

Hockenson’s agent would be hard pressed to reset the market at tight end. However, the $9MM+ commitment for 2023 indicates that the two sides can’t be that far apart.