It’s a mere formality, but Lions general manager Brad Holmes has essentially confirmed T.J. Hockenson’s fifth-year option will be picked up if it comes down to that.
Heading into his fourth season, the Detroit Lions have to decide whether or not to pick up the fifth-year rookie contract option on tight end T.J. Hockenson this offseason. It’s easily been seen as a formality to be done, but the May 2 deadline to do it is creeping closer.
On Tuesday, via Kyle Meinke of MLive, Lions general manager Brad Holmes essentially confirmed Hockenson’s option will be picked up if a contract extension doesn’t get done.
"Something doesn’t happen (with an extension), then we would have an intention to get that fifth-year option done,” the second-year general manager said on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla."
With a Pro Bowl on his resume, in 2020, Hockenson’s fifth-year option is worth a fully guaranteed $9.4 million. It stands to reason the Lions want to get a multi-year deal done with Hockenson, the eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft. Fans were scarred by the failures of past first-round draft pick tight ends Eric Ebron and Brandon Pettigrew, but Hockenson has been different as one of the rare things former general manager Bob Quinn got right.
Hockenson has topped 60 catches in back-to-back seasons. He led all NFC tight ends with 67 catches in 2020, as he became the first Lions tight end to make the Pro Bowl since David Sloan in 1999. His 61 catches led the team last season at the time of a season-ending thumb injury, which required surgery and ended his season after 12 games.
Holmes also spoke about Hockenson’s importance to the team.
“Hockenson, obviously, he’s a big part of what we did last year,” “It was unfortunate when he became unavailable for us (due to injury), but he’s another (player) that we’ll continue to lean on this year.”
In an offseason where the Lions have prioritized retaining their own, Hockenson looks like the next major order of business before the draft. Picking up his fifth-year option should only be a placeholder procedural move, if talks about a multi-year deal must go on past May 2.