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TJ Hockenson trades for Vikings, Lions: Minnesota gets former Pro Bowl TE from division rival

TJ Hockenson trades for Vikings, Lions: Minnesota gets former Pro Bowl TE from division rival

The Vikings lost the starting hard end Irv Smith Jr. to a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over Cardinals and on Tuesday team put him on injured reserve. Now they are acquired his replacement from division rivals. Minnesota is getting a former Pro Bowler TJ Hockenson from Lions as part of a draft pick swap, a deal confirmed by CBS Sports HQ NFL insider Josina Anderson.

Hockenson, 25, was drafted No. 8 overall by Detroit just three years ago, and he’s considered one of the best young players at his position. Signed through 2023 thanks to a fifth-year option that will pay him $9.4 million next year, the former Iowa standout joins its NFC North rivalsalong with a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2024 fourth-rounder in exchange for a 2023 second-rounder and a 2024 third-rounder.

Hockenson is on pace to finish with career numbers this year, leading all tight ends with 15.2 yards per catch. In seven games this year, he has helped the Lions into a passing game with 26 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns. He surpassed 500 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons despite missing five games with an injury in 2021, recording 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns during his 2020 Pro Bowl campaign.

He figures to step into the Vikings’ No. 1 tight end right away, and stay in that role even after Smith returns from his injury. Minnesota has averaged the fewest yards per catch by a tight end to this point in the season.

Hockenson’s surprise arrival marks the second intra-division trade between the Lions and Vikings this year. New Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a significant return in the 2022 first round. NFL draft in a trade with Detroit, which jumped to select a wide receiver Jameson Williams.

Trade ratings

Vikings: A

Even if Smith Jr. was healthy, they could use some help at the end. Hockenson, meanwhile, is better than most at his position when healthy. And all the Vikings gave up to get him — not just for 2022, but at least through 2023 on a reasonable deal — was the equivalent of a second-rounder. That, my friends, is proof that Adofo-Mensah knows how to make a trade. Hockenson should be an instant safety valve for Kirk Cousinshelping Minnesota move on in the NFC.

Lions: D+

Detroit absolutely deserved to get a deal before the deadline, but why on earth is it a big play for them to sell off one of their few proven building blocks? Hockenson may command a lucrative salary down the road, and he’s had his own injury history, but even the draft picks they’re getting are far from guaranteed to replace the current 8th overall pick. Maybe all will be forgiven if they somehow turn those guys into true franchise QBs.





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