Detroit Lions: 5 2023 free agent TEs to replace T.J. Hockenson

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?

T.J. Hockenson Detroit Lions

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

Detroit Lions Brad Holmes

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?

Written by W.G. Brady

W.G. Brady is a Detroit-based journalist who has been covering the Detroit sports scene for Detroit Sports Nation for several years. He is in his early 30s and has a wealth of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, W.G. has established himself as a respected and knowledgeable journalist known for his in-depth coverage of the teams and athletes in Detroit. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for sports, W.G. has become a go-to source for fans and readers looking for the latest news and analysis on the Detroit sports scene. He has a good reputation in the sports community and is respected for his unbiased coverage of sports events. W.G. is known for his ability to uncover hidden stories and provide unique perspectives on the teams and athletes he covers. He has a good understanding of the city of Detroit and its sports culture, which he uses to inform his reporting and analysis. He continues to be a respected journalist in the Detroit sports industry.

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