10 bold predictions for the Minnesota Vikings 2023 offseason

(Photo by Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter
(Photo by Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports) Danielle Hunter /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) T.J. Hockenson /

T.J. Hockenson will sign an extension (and Irv Smith will leave in free agency)

While cutting and trading veterans is one way to create room, signing some of the younger players is a way to lower a cap number. In the case of T.J. Hockenson, an extension is worth the investment, thanks to the draft capital that was used to acquire him and his performance this past season.

Hockenson set career highs with 86 catches and 914 receiving yards this past year, and his six touchdowns tied a career-high set in 2020. After making his second Pro Bowl, the soon-to-be 26-year-old figures to be a key part of the Vikings offense.

It’s fitting that Irv Smith Jr. will be in a contract year just as Hockenson is ready to get paid. Hockenson is what many hoped Smith would be after he was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft, but injuries and ineffectiveness on the field have effectively erased him from Minnesota’s plans.

It’s unclear as to where Smtih will land, but it’s a safe bet he has played his final game for the Vikings.