T.J. Hockenson

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.

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

Drafted during the Bob Quinn regime, T.J. Hockenson remains a key part of the Lions’ future under GM Brad Holmes‘ stewardship. The team plans to pick up the former top-10 pick’s fifth-year option.

As a one-time Pro Bowl selection at tight end, Hockenson will command a $9.39MM salary on his 2023 option. The Lions are only using the option as a placeholder, however, eyeing an extension for the veteran pass catcher, Holmes said (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett).

One of a few Iowa-produced tight ends stationed in the NFC, joining George Kittle and Noah Fant, Hockenson followed Eric Ebron as a top-10 Lions tight end choice. Hockenson earned his Pro Bowl nod in 2020, when he caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 target played all 16 games that season. Injuries have limited him to 12 apiece in his first and third years, respectively. An ankle injury sidelined the former No. 8 overall choice in December 2019, and thumb surgery shelved him in December of last year. Hockenson still operated as Jared Goff‘s top target in 2021; he averaged a career-high 48.6 yards per game.

The deals the Patriots gave Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry last year come in at $12.5MM per year, with Dallas Goedert signing a $14.25MM-AAV extension late last year. Neither Kittle nor Travis Kelce‘s deals check in much higher — at $15MM and $14.3MM per year, respectively — so Hockenson will be positioned to be among the highest-paid tight ends in the game. With Goff’s contract unlikely to be on the Lions’ payroll long-term, they will have cash to dole out to other key players in the near future.

Detroit figures to lean on Hockenson again in 2022, though Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Chark should factor in heavily in the team’s passing attack. Holding the Nos. 32 and 34 picks this month, the Lions could certainly add a big name to their receiving corps in the draft as well.

Lions’ T.J. Hockenson Done For Year

T.J. Hockenson‘s season is over. The Lions tight end underwent thumb surgery on Thursday morning that will rule him out for the remainder of 2021 (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). He’ll be placed on injured reserve this week and focus on his recovery for 2022. 

[RELATED: Lions’ Jacobs Done For Year]

Hockenson isn’t a stranger to IR, having lost a chunk of his rookie season to an ankle injury. That year, he finished out with 32 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Then, last year, Hockenson tallied 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns across a full 16-game slate. This year, even as the Lions have slumped, the Pro Bowler has amassed a solid 61/583/4 line in 12 games.

It’ll be fine,” Hockenson said last week, before today’s news broke (via the Detroit Free Press). “No worries here.”

Hockenson was Jared Goff‘s favorite target throughout the year. Now, the Lions’ offense will have to look elsewhere for support in the passing game. Life without Hockenson starts this Sunday against the Cardinals.

Lions Place Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay On Reserve/COVID-19 List

TODAY: Good news for the Lions. Stafford has been removed from the COVID-19 list and has been placed back on the active roster, per a team statement. Apparently, the third test that he was required to take before entering team facilities resulted in what turned out to be a false positive, but his next three tests were all negative. Neither Stafford nor any members of his household have (or had) COVID-19.

AUGUST 1: The Lions placed Matthew Stafford on their reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday. He joins Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson and Justin Coleman on Detroit’s list.

Placement on this list does not mean these players tested positive for the coronavirus. The list also includes players who are quarantining because they came in contact with someone who has tested positive. Stafford will join Golladay, Hockenson and Coleman in being away from the bulk of Lions teammates for the time being.

Thus far, Stafford is the NFL’s highest-profile player to land on the COVID list. He is, however, believed to be asymptomatic at this time, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Cornerback Amani Oruwariye, punter Arryn Siposs, safety Jalen Elliott and tight end Isaac Nauta are also on Detroit’s reserve/COVID list. Among the Lions’ group, as of Saturday, it is known Coleman tested positive, though NFL.com reported the veteran slot corner is asymptomatic.

If Stafford tested positive, he will be required to miss at least five days. This waiting period is only for asymptomatic players. Players who test positive and have symptoms for the virus must miss at least 10 days. That number is fluid; it depends on symptoms players experience. Players who land in either category must test negative twice before rejoining the team.

In this altered training camp format, practices do not begin until Aug. 12. Full practices do not start until Aug. 17, so the Lions have a bit of time for their group of starters to return. Teams begin their strength and conditioning-based acclimation periods Monday. Of course, this all depends on the players’ issues with the virus.

Lions To Place T.J. Hockenson On IR

T.J. Hockenson‘s first NFL season will end early. The No. 8 overall pick suffered an ankle injury that will prompt the Lions to place him on IR, Matt Patricia said Monday.

The Iowa product will wrap up his first season with 32 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow Big Ten-produced rookie David Blough repeatedly tried to get Hockenson going on Thanksgiving Day, targeting him a season-high 11 times, but that effort ended with six receptions for 18 yards. It was emblematic of Hockenson’s rookie year.

After it looked like Hockenson would buck the trend of rookie tight ends being slow to assimilate to NFL action, he did not contribute too much statistically. More than a third of Hockenson’s yardage numbers came via his six-catch, 131-yard debut against the Cardinals. He did suffer a concussion and a shoulder injury, however. Hockenson still figures to be a key target for Matthew Stafford next season.

Detroit used a first-round pick on a tight end for the third time in 10 years, with Hockenson following Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron. Hockenson joined Noah Fant as Iowa tight ends chosen in Round 1. Considering the leap fellow Iowa product George Kittle made in his second season, more can be expected of the ex-Hawkeyes as NFL sophomores.