Lions Trade Tight End T.J. Hockenson to Vikings

by Daniel Johnson
Lions Trade TE T.J. Hockenson to Vikings

In an absolutely stunning intra-division move, the first domino on trade deadline day has dropped: Lions Trade Tight End T.J. Hockenson to Vikings.

As far as compensation goes, the Vikings also receive a 2023 fourth-round pick, and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick. The Lions, in return, get a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick.

This comes just on the heels of last night's news that Vikings TE Irv Smith, Jr. suffered what's believed to be a high ankle sprain in Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Last we heard, Minnesota was still working out the timeline on Smith's return, but this move suggests it might be serious enough that the Vikings needed to bolster their offense.

Watch Mike Laplant and Dylan Clemons breakdown all the trades on YouTube.

But who would have thought they'd get a replacement tight end—indeed, a potential upgrade at tight end—from within their division?

Lions Trade Tight End T.J. Hockenson to Vikings

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Hockenson's Career in Detroit

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The Lions drafted Hockenson—a stud college TE from the University of Iowa—with the eighth overall pick of the 2019 draft. He would only start seven games for them that season, but in 2020 was where he really burst onto the scene as an elite receiving option at the position.

In 2020, he converted 101 targets into 67 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns. He started all 16 games for the Lions that year. He was also a first-down machine that year. 40 of his 67 receptions resulted in the chains moving.

Hockenson was similarly productive in 2021 (84 targets, 61 receptions, 583 yards, and four touchdowns) before he missed the last five games of the season with a left thumb injury.

Through seven games played so far this year, he's been Fantasy's TE4 overall. He's converted 43 targets into 26 receptions, 395 yards, and three touchdowns.

Impact in Detroit

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Head Coach Dan Campbell had mentioned earlier this week that several trades might be on the table for his Lions. They have the worst record in the NFL (1-6) and are currently mired in a five-game losing streak. It's clearly a selling deadline for them, and Hockenson is the first key piece to go.

Needless to say, the fact that the perennially-productive Hockenson will be in their division for the foreseeable future signals the white flag for Detroit for at least 2022, and maybe 2023. Hockenson was a linchpin to their offense, and now they'll play him twice a year going forward.

As far as Fantasy goes, we know Jared Goff liked Hockenson, especially on third downs. The tight end options behind Hockenson are not appealing for Fantasy whatsoever: Brock Wright and James Mitchell will likely just be blockers.

I suppose you could say Goff's value takes a small hit from this, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say the Detroit receivers get a significant bump. Amon-Ra St. Brown might see a few more targets. If anyone stands to benefit the most, it might be Josh Reynolds behind ARSB. But he's still not on the lineup radar.

Impact in Minnesota

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While the rest of the NFL might not be taking it seriously, it's very clear the Minnesota Vikings believe in their 6-1 start in 2022. For the last few seasons, it's felt like the Vikings were always just a few fair winds away from being a legitimate playoff team. It seems like things are blowing in the right direction, this year.

And now they get a healthy T.J. Hockenson at 25 years old to replace their freshly-injured second-year TE Irv Smith, Jr. This move is massive for this offense, which seems to be firing on all cylinders right now with Kirk Cousins under center.

Honestly, I don't see this as a move that brings the stock of either Justin Jefferson or Dalvin Cook down. We know they're always going to get theirs. Perhaps the Vikings are a bit concerned about the health and longevity of Adam Thielen, who left Sunday's game briefly with an undisclosed injury. His stock might take the most notable hit—particularly in red zone packages—of any Vikings skill weapon.

I think this elevates the entire offense, including and especially Cousins. Already at QB13 so far this year, this move throttles him right into the top-ten QB discussion for the rest of the year.

Final Thoughts

This is an exciting one. You love to see young, talented players get traded to contenders, where they can put their skill sets on display in high-stakes situations. Hockenson was going to find nary a competitive stake in a single Detroit game the rest of the season. He'll be playing in plenty in Minnesota for the rest of the year.

What's still the most stunning aspect of this is the intra-divisional nature of the transaction. Will Hockenson haunt the Lions for years to come? With that hair, he already looks like a Norseman. I can hear the SKOL chants from here.

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