The trade deadline brings plenty of speculation over who could be dealt, but trading T.J. Hockenson just doesn’t make much sense for the Lions.
At 1-5 now, if the Detroit Lions are going to be anything between now and next Tuesday’s trade deadline they are going to be sellers. Exactly who other teams might have interest in, or who they could be looking to move, are the questions.
As part of a list of players each NFL team could trade before the deadline, via USA TODAY’s network of team-focused sites, Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire offered T.J. Hockenson as the candidate for the Lions.
Hockenson has been a quality starter for the Lions with the occasional weeks of greatness sprinkled in here and there. But inconsistent receiving production and average (at best) blocking isn’t worth the premium contract Hockenson is likely to seek in the next year. Detroit already exercised the 5th-year option for 2023, but his long-term value for the Lions is debatable. A team more ready to win now could value Hockenson enough to make an offer GM Brad Holmes cannot refuse. Adding more picks to help the league’s worst defense is more appealing than overpaying to keep a good-not-great TE like Hockenson in the den
Trading T.J. Hockenson before the deadline doesn’t make sense for the Lions
Other than one big game, Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks, Hockenson has had a disappointing 2022 season so far. The Lions picked up his fifth-year option for 2023, so he’s got a bit of reasonable contractual control that could appeal to other teams.
The tight end market has shifted upward with recent deals for David Njoku and Dawson Knox, both of whom Hockenson (or his agent) can comfortably argue he should be paid more than in a new contract.
It has seemed like a foregone conclusion the Lions will get a long-term deal done with Hockenson, but the more time passes without it done there will be questions about it. If the team has drawn a line in the proverbial sand they won’t go past, in terms of years or per year average, it may be time to be open to the possibility of trading him.
As far as the Lions seem to be away from winning at a high level, cashing in current assets for future value makes sense. But Hockenson has seemed to be a piece of the future in Detroit, not a piece to be dealt away in an effort to supplement that future.
If contract talks (assuming they are going on) with Hockenson don’t yield a deal in the coming months, then the possibility of the Lions trading him in the offseason becomes more palatable. But if only based on timing, unless an offer that just can’t be turned down comes, it doesn’t make sense to trade him over the next week.