Detroit Lions trade TE T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota Vikings for swap of draft picks

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press

T.J. Hockenson has a new home, but he won't be leaving the division.

The Detroit Lions traded Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline, the Vikings announced.

NFL Network reported the deal is for a swap of future draft picks. The Lions will receive a 2023 second-round pick and 2024 third-round pick, and send a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-rounder to the Vikings.

DAVE BIRKETT:It's quarterback or bust in 2023 NFL draft for destitute Detroit Lions

Asked about the possibility of being traded last week, Hockenson said he loved playing in Detroit but seemed content to be dealt elsewhere. The Lions had not opened negotiations on a new contract with Hockenson, who has one-year left on his rookie deal.

"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 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 naïve in that fact."

Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) walks back into the tunnel after the Lions lost, 31-27, to the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022.

The No. 8 pick of the 2019 NFL draft, Hockenson caught 186 passes for 2,068 yards in 47 games with the Lions. He made the Pro Bowl in 2020, but finished last season on injured reserve with a thumb injury and was relegated to more of a supporting role in the Lions' new offense this season.

Hockenson had 26 catches for a team-best 395 yards in seven games this season.

The deal gives the Vikings another excellent receiving option for quarterback Kirk Cousins -- as well as an immediate replacement for starting tight end Irv Smith, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in Sunday's game and is expected to be out eight to 10 weeks.

CARLOS MONARREZ:Should Detroit Lions sell or buy at the NFL trade deadline?

The Lions, 1-6 and owners of the worst record in the NFL, are in rebuild mode and in need of draft capital to bolster their roster.

They currently have eight picks in next year's draft, including two first-round picks - their own choice, a potential top-10 pick, and the Los Angeles Rams' pick, which was acquired in the Matthew Stafford trade - and two second-rounders. That should be enough to make them players for one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.

The Lions also have their own third, fifth- and sixth-round picks, plus an additional sixth-rounder from the Trinity Benson trade with the Denver Broncos.

They sent their seventh-round pick to the Rams for Michael Brockers in March of 2021.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday general manager Brad Holmes would be "looking into anything and everything" on the trade front, but declined to say whether the team should be sellers given their record.

"That’s really not something I feel like I need to answer," Campbell said. "That’s not really my place at this point. Mine is to make the most of what we’ve got here, which is plenty to compete with, I believe."

The Lions and Vikings have made two major trades in the past seven months. The Lions traded Picks 32 and 34, plus a third-rounder, in April's draft to Minnesota to move up to the No. 12 spot and take receiver Jameson Williams.

Williams has not played this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but is expected to debut in December.

Tuesday's trade was the Lions' first deadline deal since 2020, when they acquired defensive end Everson Griffen from the Dallas Cowboys for a sixth-round draft pick.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.