Following the conclusion of the 2021 season, we warned that tight end T.J. Hockenson could be going into his final season with the Detroit Lions, as his contract demands would likely be too high for Brad Holmes‘ liking. Fast forward to the present, and on Tuesday, just prior to the NFL trade deadline, the Lions traded Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings for some important draft capital in the 2023 and 2024 NFL Drafts. As it stands, the Lions will roll with Brock Wright as their TE 1, but who will take that spot in 2023? If Holmes decides to go the free agent route, here are five options he should consider.
Will the Detroit Lions sign a free agent TE 1 in the offseason?
Let me begin by saying that I do not think the Lions will sign any of the free-agent tight ends I am about to mention.
Wait, what?!?! Stay with me here while I explain.
The reason why Brad Holmes decided to move on from T.J. Hockenson is that he did not want to give a tight end a long-term contract that would make him one of the highest-paid players in his position. According to Spotrac, Hockenson's market value is currently $13.5 million per season.
If Holmes wanted to pony up the cash for the tight end position, he may as well have kept Hockenson around long-term. That was obviously not the case.
5 2023 free agent TEs to replace former Detroit Lions TE T.J. Hockenson
That being said, IF Holmes decides to sign a free agent TE 1 in the offseason, here are five options he should consider. (Market values all via Spotrac)
Mike Gesicki (27 years old) – Miami Dolphins ($13.5 million market value)
Dalton Schultz (26 years old) – Dallas Cowboys ($11 million market value)
Evan Engram (28 years old) – Jacksonville Jaguars ($9.3 million market value)
Austin Hooper (27 years old) – Tennessee Titans ($6 million current salary, market value should be more)
Robert Tonyan (28 years old) – Green Bay Packers ($9.3 million market value)
Personally, I cannot see Brad Holmes paying up for a TE 1 during free agency. Instead, I expect the Lions to take a tight end in the mid-rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Nation, which of the free-agent tight ends listed above would you prefer if the Lions decided to go that route?