T.J. Hockenson

Injury Updates: Hockenson, Uzomah, Covey

A career-year was cut short for Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson when the 26-year-old suffered tears in both his ACL and MCL. Hockenson was forced out of Minnesota’s Week 16 loss to the Lions, officially putting an end to his fifth NFL season.

After waiting 36 days in order to allow his MCL to heal, Hockenson underwent surgery to repair his ACL at the end of January, per Kevin Seifert of ESPN. Seifert reported no complications from the procedure and a typical recovery period of nine months. Training camp for Minnesota is set to begin six months from the date of his surgery, so there’s a growing possibility that Hockenson will miss a chunk of the 2024 season.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL as the season nears its close this weekend:

  • Another tight end, one who’s been around a bit longer than Hockenson, also suffered a season-ending injury late in the year. Jets veteran C.J. Uzomah sustained damage to his MCL and meniscus and a plateau fracture of his tibia early into a Week 12 loss to the Falcons. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, recovery is going well, though rehab is reportedly “way worse” than when he came back from an Achilles tendon injury a few years. Uzomah is headed into a contract year with New York, but his injury combined with an impending cap hit of $11.22MM could put him at risk of being a cap casualty. A potential out in his contract would allow the team to release him with only $5.92MM in dead money.
  • Second-year Eagles wide receiver and return specialist Britain Covey was reportedly dealing with a quadriceps injury down the stretch of the season, per EJ Smith of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He had undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee at the opening of last year’s offseason, and he seemed to be under the impression that his quad issues were a byproduct from that previous injury.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/27/23

Wednesday’s minor NFL transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson Out For Season

Signs from the aftermath of the Vikings’ loss over the weekend pointed to an extended absence for T.J. Hockenson. That has now been confirmed, as head coach Kevin O’Connell said Tuesday the Pro Bowl tight end will require surgery to repair ACL and MCL tears.

Hockenson was forced to exit Minnesota’s game against Detroit due to the injury, and O’Connell admitted not long after that signs were pointing to a lengthy absence. After further testing, the 2022 trade acquisition is now out for the year. The news puts an end to a productive campaign, and leaves the Vikings without another key member of their offense due to a major injury.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins suffered an Achilles tear earlier in the year, something which threatened to derail the team’s season. Especially given the time missed by star wideout Justin Jefferson, Minnesota’s playoff prospects appeared to take a turn for the worse. The Vikings are now 7-8 on the year, but they face uncertainty under center and they will now be without a major weapon in their passing game as they push for an NFC wild-card berth.

Hockenson was acquired at the trade deadline last season in a deal which put an end to his hot-and-cold tenure with the Lions. The intra-divisional swap resulted in a strong showing in the second half of the season, however, as he posted a 60-519-3 statline in 10 games. That production proved his effectiveness in O’Connell’s system, and set him up for a major payday in the offseason.

The 26-year-old signed a $16.5MM-per-year extension in August, keeping him on the books through 2027 and making him the league’s second-highest paid tight end in terms of annual compensation. That pact raised expectations for Hockenson, and he delivered in 2023 despite Cousins’ missed time. The Iowa alum set new career highs in catches (95) and yards (960) in 15 games this season. As a result, his absence will deal a substantial blow to the Vikings’ offense.

O’Connell also confirmed that edge rusher D.J. Wonnum is headed to injured reserve due to a torn quad. That was the expected outcome in this situation, but it confirms his season is over, something with signficant financial implications given his status as a pending free agent. Minnesota’s defense will be shorthanded as the team approaches a pair of must-win games, while the offense will likewise be without a top contributor.

With Hockenson out of the picture, Josh Oliver will likely assume starting duties at the TE spot. A free agent addition from this past offseason, Oliver has established himself as a strong blocker in recent years, which led to a three-year, $21MM contract. The former third-rounder has made only 19 catches this season serving as a complement to Hockenson this season, though. Johnny Mundt and Nick Muse have likewise seen small workloads in the passing game to date, but that could change in the immediate future.

NFL Injury Updates: Jacobs, Miller, Vikings, Sutton

To start with, let’s address one of the remaining games of this week. It appears that the Chiefs’ route to an eighth consecutive AFC West title will be a bit easier today as the Raiders will be playing without leading running back Josh Jacobs, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. After starting the first 13 games of the season with Las Vegas, Jacobs is now set to miss a second straight game.

Jacobs was held out of last week’s contest after suffering a quad injury in the previous week. He hadn’t been able to practice during a short week and the team had decided it better to act out of an abundance of caution so as to not risk further damage. The Raiders had been holding out hope that Jacobs would be able to find his way back to the field this week, but an illness combined with the healing quad to ensure that Jacobs would not be able to make an appearance in Week 16. If his absence last week, backup Zamir White earned his first career start, rushing for 69 yards and a touchdown in place of Jacobs.

After a promising start to his career, the last few years have been a bit inconsistent for Jacobs. He followed up two seasons in which he rushed for a combined 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns with only an 872-yard campaign, though he was still breaching the endzone often with nine touchdowns. After a down year that led to the Raiders choosing not to pick up his fifth-year option, Jacobs exploding into a rushing title with 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns. This year, Jacobs is at 805 rushing yards on a career-worst 3.5 yards per attempt and six touchdowns.

Jacobs had avoided playing out this season on the franchise tag, after coming to a one-year agreement with the Raiders, but a long-term deal remained elusive. Missing time due to injury at the tail end of disappointing season is unfortunately not going to help matters much when Jacobs enters the offseason at the end of the year.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL:

  • In addition to Jacobs, while Las Vegas will reportedly have left tackle Kolton Miller return today as an active player, it appears that he may only be available as an emergency option on the offensive line, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Miller has missed four of the team’s last five contests. In his absence the Raiders have experimented with moving usual starting right tackle Thayer Munford to the left side while having backup lineman Jermaine Eluemunor start on the opposite side of wherever they line up Munford. That trend should continue into Week 16.
  • We already reported on the situation with Vikings pass rusher D.J. Wonnum, but the team lost three other significant contributors to injury during yesterday’s game. Budding tight end T.J. Hockenson, rookie first-round wide receiver Jordan Addison, and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon were all forced out of Sunday’s game early. Fowler of ESPN reported this morning that the outlook for Hockenson is “not good.” While Minnesota is still holding out hope that his MRI will tell a different story, the team is bracing for bad news on the subject. As for Addison, an ankle sprain is projected to have him on a week-to-week status, and the Vikings will hope to glean a bit more information after further testing today, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
  • Lastly, the Broncos played much of yesterday’s loss to the Patriots without their leading receiver after Courtland Sutton left the game with a concussion, according to Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. Sutton has struggled over the years to find the yardage success he had in 2019 but has rediscovered his redzone proficiency in 2023. The big-bodied receiver leads the team in receptions (58), receiving yards (770), and receiving touchdowns (10) this season. Sutton will have to pass through concussion protocol to return next week in time to help his team in what has become a bit more difficult race for a Wild Card spot.

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.