Minnesota Vikings’ T.J. Hockenson could ‘reset’ market with historic contract by 2024

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings paid a small fortune before the NFL trade deadline to acquire tight end T.J. Hockenson. Now, the franchise will likely need to pay even more if it wants to keep one of its best offensive weapons in the years to come.

Hockenson, the 8th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was traded to the Vikings on Nov. 1 along with a 2023 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick in exchange for the 59th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft order and a 2024 third-round pick.

  • T.J. Hockenson stats (2022): 86 receptions, 914 receiving yards, 44 first downs

Hockenson made an instant impact in Minnesota’s offense, becoming a go-to target for Kirk Cousins. While the 6-foot-5 tight end is viewed as a crucial piece of the Vikings’ long-term core, they do face challenges ahead.

All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson is headed for a contract extension, seeking a deal that will make him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. Already planning to commit a $30 million AAV to their No. 1 weapon, keeping Hockenson beyond the 2023 season will also be costly.

NFL insider Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team reported that many agents around the league believe Hockenson could be the player to reset the market for tight ends. After seeing the salaries for wide receivers explode in 2022, there is a belief that the spike will soon come for tight ends.

  • T.J. Hockenson contract: $9.392 million salary (2023), 2024 free agent

While it’s not something the Vikings’ front office needs to address immediately, delaying things might cost even more money. NFL teams are preparing for the salary cap to increase by around $20 million per season in the years ahead.

Based on Hockenson’s role in the offense – he averaged 9.4 targets and 55.9 receiving yards per game from Weeks 8-16 – he could set career highs in 2023. If that happens, his asking price will climb along with the salary cap.

Darren Waller is currently the highest-paid tight end in football with a $17 million AAV, while George Kittle leads the position in total value ($75 million) and total guaranteed money ($40 million).

Both of those figures could easily be surpassed by Hockenson in his next contract, meaning the Vikings could be spending nearly $48 million per year on a wide receiver and tight end. For a franchise that already has long-term uncertainty at quarterback, Minnesota’s investments in skill players would essentially require a starting quarterback on a rookie deal.

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