The Vikings Ought to Have Zero Regrets with the T.J. Hockenson Commerce, however the Detroit Lions are Wanting Fairly Good


Syndication: Detroit Free Press
David Rodriguez Munoz / USA TODAY NETWORK

One factor feels sure: the Detroit Lions don’t have any regrets about buying and selling away T.J. Hockenson.

Pulling off the swap meant buying and selling away a 2nd and a third in trade for Hockenson after which a pair of 4ths. Detroit was tumbling down the standings on the time, seemingly prepared to embrace a tank for the rest of the season whereas recouping valuable draft capital. Plus, Lions GM Brad Holmes — who has made some good selections in recent times — may keep away from needing to increase the tight finish for main cash, giving Detroit some better monetary flexibility shifting ahead.

For the reason that deal occurred, issues have seemed like a win/win. The Lions received higher picks and cap house. The Vikings received a TE1 to take the warmth off of Justin Jefferson and to operate as an amazing possibility for whoever has been below middle. Seeing Sam LaPorta obtain a lot success in 2023, although, could also be prompting some Minnesotans to query the transfer.

Have been the Lions taking part in chess whereas the Vikings had been taking part in checkers?

T.J. Hockenson and Second Guessing the Commerce

Assume again to a deal that labored out splendidly for Minnesota: the Stefon Diggs commerce with the Buffalo Payments.

Buffalo agreed to tackle Minnesota’s disgruntled receiver. Doing so gave their younger quarterback — Josh Allen — a real WR1. The associated fee was the twenty second choose, one hundred and fifty fifth choose, and 201st choose within the 2020 NFL Draft. In 2021, the Vikings additionally picked up the 134th choose. Buffalo, in flip, received Diggs after which the 239th choose within the 2020 Draft.

Stefon Diggs
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Payments extensive receiver Stefon Diggs warms up earlier than a sport in opposition to the Minnesota Vikings at Highmark Stadium. Necessary Credit score: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports activities

Diggs has since been providing wonderful play for fairly meaty pay. In the meantime, Justin Jefferson has been working by the primary 4 years of his rookie deal.

He was chosen with the choose that Minnesota snagged from the Payments and has confirmed to be the superior participant. Providing higher play for much less pay whereas being a lot youthful (Jefferson is 24, Diggs is 30) means that the Vikings did very properly within the swap even when Payments followers shouldn’t be too upset about how issues labored out.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings extensive receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a go for a landing and celebrates with extensive receiver Justin Jefferson (18) throughout second half of the sport in opposition to the Detroit Lions at Ford Area. Necessary Credit score: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports activities

Is one thing related happening with the Hockenson commerce?

Admittedly, issues aren’t fairly so tidy because it’s not just like the Lions used the Vikings’ draft choose to get LaPorta, their new TE1. Even nonetheless, it’s onerous to not be impressed by how the Lions have managed their assets.

Realizing that extending Hockenson could not work out, the Lions determined to do enterprise on the commerce market. The Lions snagged the fifty fifth choose in 2023 and the 73rd choose in 2024. The open spot at TE1 helped immediate Detroit’s choice to sink the thirty fourth choose within the 2023 Draft into LaPorta, who’s youthful and cheaper than Hockenson. Plus, he was simply named a second-team All Professional in his debut NFL season, an honor that has eluded Hockenson in his five-year NFL profession.

Evaluate the 2 side-by-side for the previous season:

Participant (Age) Catches Yards TDs YPC Common Video games Performed Snaps
T.J. Hockenson (26) 95 960 5 10.1 15 790
Sam LaPorta (23) 86 889 10 10.3 17 981

After all, the Vikings additionally snagged the 119th choose in 2023 and one hundred and thirtieth choose in 2024 on account of the commerce, however they’ve additionally needed to forfeit some cap flexibility to retain their new tight finish. In 2024, Hockenson will enter into Yr 1 of of the 4-year, $66 million extension he agreed to throughout the summer time.

In 2024, LaPorta will carry a $2,151,363 cap cost; Hockenson will carry a $14,041,176 cap cost. The season after makes the discrepancy much more pronounced, with Detroit’s TE1 scheduled for a $2,581,636 cap hit whereas Hockenson is scheduled for a $15,100,000 cap hit.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight finish T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his landing in opposition to the Chicago Bears within the fourth quarter at U.S. Financial institution Stadium. Necessary Credit score: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports activities

As a group, the Lions look to be a transparent step forward of the Vikings, largely on account of being significantly better at drafting and growing in current seasons. Since 2021, the Lions have drafted Penei Sewell, Alim McNeil, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Aidan Hutchinson, Malcolm Rodriguez, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, Sam LaPorta, and Brian Department (amongst different affect gamers).

If Jameson Williams finds a way of life as much as his potential, the NFC North goes to be in bother.

The Vikings’ draft haul pales compared, although the additions of Christian Darrisaw, Camryn Bynum, Akayleb Evans, Ty Chandler, Jordan Addison, and Mekhi Blackmon level towards various levels of promise and upside. Oh, and snagging Ivan Tempo and NaJee Thompson as UDFAs definitely helps.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) and linebacker Ivan Tempo Jr. (40) and linebacker Nick Vigil (proper) collect earlier than the sport in opposition to the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Financial institution Stadium. Necessary Credit score: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports activities

Insisting that the T.J. Hockenson commerce didn’t work out for Minnesota can be misguided. True, the damage is discouraging, however that’s not on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and neither is it on Hockenson; the scenario is unlucky, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. And, to make certain, the hope and plan is for the tight finish to get again to full well being and contributing at an elite degree sooner or later in 2024.

Whereas Minnesota ought to be thankful for grafting one of many NFL’s top-five tight ends onto its roster, Detroit needs to be much more happy with how issues have labored out for them. The commerce, in isolation, seems to be like a win/win, however the broader context of Detroit’s superior drafting and total roster makes issues seem rosier in The Motor Metropolis.

The Lions will proceed their playoff journey on Sunday, January twenty first after they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the meantime, Minnesota shall be trying to get wholesome as they prepared themselves for the GM’s “big offseason.”

Editor’s Word: Info from Pro Football Reference, Tankathon, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.


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Okay. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been protecting the Vikings full time because the summer time of 2021. He will be discovered on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.



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