Detroit Lions: Will T.J. Hockenson be NFL’s highest paid TE one day?

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

After watching other tight ends get paid, will the Detroit Lions’ T.J. Hockenson be them one day?

About a week ago, everyone watched as two of the NFL’s best tight ends signed enormous contracts. San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle got a five-year, $75 million deal. That was shortly followed by Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce getting a four-year, $57 million extension. But what does this mean for the Detroit Lions?

Based on these new contracts, the tight end position in the NFL is more valuable than ever. That would seem to justify the first-round pick made by the Lions just last year.

A lot of fans harshly criticized Detroit for drafting Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the eighth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. And rightfully so after what they went through with former first-round tight end Eric Ebron after he was drafted by the Lions 10th overall back in 2014.

What qualifies T.J. to be one of the highest paid tight ends in the league?

The reason Kittle and Kelce got their huge payday is because they’re all around players who can block, catch, and are great leaders for their respective teams. Hockenson has displayed all of those same traits in his short time as a pro.

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Hockenson still has a long way to go in his career, but he started it with a record-setting Week One performance last year. He broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in his first career game with 124, a record that has stood for almost 60 years. Monty Stickles originally set the record with 123 yards back in September of1960 while playing for the 49ers.

During the offseason, Hockenson worked out with his former college teammate, the newly-paid George Kittle. Hockenson claimed the biggest takeaway from those workouts was just to enjoy himself more and have fun.

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T.J. Hockenson will likely not be up for his next contract negotiation until 2024. But if his career path is anything like his buddy George Kittle’s, then the Detroit Lions might have gotten a really good deal at a position that is trending upwards.