Vikings agree to terms with Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson on contract extension

Published 1:17 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

EAGAN — The Minnesota Vikings agreed to terms on a contract extension Thursday with tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Hockenson was the eighth overall pick by Detroit in the 2019 draft out of Iowa. The two-time Pro Bowl pick was acquired in a deadline-day trade last year by the Vikings and had 60 catches for 519 yards in 10 games. His season total of 914 receiving yards was a career high.

Hockenson was only a limited participant for most of training camp, first citing an ear infection that caused equilibrium trouble and later attributing his absence to lower back stiffness. Hockenson repeatedly said he wasn’t holding back because of his contract extension.

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“I didn’t view at as that at all,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. “I just know there was a process that had to play out.”

Hockenson was close to a full participant in practice Wednesday, coach Kevin O’Connell said, and is expected to be in the starting lineup for the season opener Sept. 10 against Tampa Bay.

The Vikings sent a 2023 second-round draft pick and a 2024 third-round draft pick to the Lions for Hockenson and two draft picks (a fourth-round draft pick in 2023 and a conditional draft pick in 2024).

With Hockenson locked up for the long term, the Vikings have one more contract situation to resolve with a pending extension for superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson. He still has two years left on his rookie deal, but the Vikings would be unwise to play hardball with the reigning Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year award winner.

“Justin’s someone we want around here for a very long time,” Adofo-Mensah said.

O’Connell also announced the eight captains for the season at a joint news conference with Adofo-Mensah: Jefferson, quarterback Kirk Cousins, fullback C.J. Ham, right tackle Brian O’Neill, outside linebacker Danielle Hunter, linebacker Jordan Hicks, safety Harrison Smith and safety and special teams ace Josh Metellus. Cousins was an unanimous pick by his teammates, excluding his own ballot.

With running back Kene Nwangwu on injured reserve with a lower back injury, O’Connell said Ty Chandler will start as the primary kickoff returner. Chandler is the backup to starter Alexander Mattison. Myles Gaskin was added Wednesday for depth with Nwangwu sidelined.