The Detroit Lions have traded tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings just hours before Tuesday’s trade deadline, ESPN reported. The Vikings are sending a 2023 second-round pick and 2024 third-round pick to their division rival for Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick, NFL Media reported.
“Most GMs won’t trade in the division,” said analyst Joe Banner of The 33rd Team. “I believe the opposite: Don’t do a trade unless you are confident you are ‘winning’ the trade. If you are winning, then it’s even better to do it in your own division.”
Banner doesn’t believe the Lions received a comparable exchange for Hockenson, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
“The Lions didn’t get great value, but if you are admitting to yourself that you need one to two more years to complete your rebuild it may be worth doing anyway even if it’s a bit less value than the full value you deserve,” Banner said. “They didn’t do this if they had any other offers that were close.”
This deal comes on the heels of the Vikings losing starting tight end Irv Smith Jr. for 8-10 weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain in the team’s Week 8 win over the Arizona Cardinals. However, Hockenson isn’t just a short-term fix for Minnesota’s tight end position; he had his fifth-year option picked up and is guaranteed $9.4 million next year.
Hockenson has 26 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns this season. He’s recorded 2,068 yards receiving, 15 receiving touchdowns and 186 receptions in four seasons.
Analyst Chase Daniel of the 33rd Team believes Hockenson will make life much easier for Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense.
“A tight end and a running back, if the defense is playing zone coverage, is a quarterback’s best friend,” said Daniel, “And what [Hockenson] was able to do earlier in the year against Seattle just sort of shows his value. He went crazy!”
Hockenson will join an already talented group of Vikings skill position players that includes wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook.
“What you’re seeing is a nice marriage for [the Lions] with the Vikings,” said The 33rd Team analyst and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, “because [Detroits’] philosophy is and has been to build their team through the draft and they’ve found a nice partner with Minnesota.”
Hockenson, the former Iowa tight end, knew there was a chance he could be traded when rumors started swirling before the team’s Week 8 game against the Miami Dolphins.
“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 told the Detroit Free Press. “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 naive in that fact.”
Although it’s rare to see a trade between division rivals, the Vikings and Lions made a significant trade during the 2022 NFL Draft. The Lions traded with Minnesota to move up to No. 12 overall in order to select Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams.
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