Latest Vikings signing could mean bad news for T.J. Hockenson

Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson
Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

Currently, Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson is in the middle of recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in a Week 16 matchup against the Detroit Lions last season. Hockenson's recovery is believed to be going well, but his status for Minnesota's Week 1 game against the New York Giants in September is still unknown.

Despite the optimism surrounding his knee injury, the Vikings recently made a signing that could indicate how the team currently feels differently about the health of their top tight end heading into next season.

On Thursday, Minnesota announced that they have signed veteran tight end Robert Tonyan, who appeared in 17 games with the Chicago Bears last season.

What could the signing of Robert Tonyan mean for Minnesota Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson?

In addition to spending the 2023 campaign with the Bears, Tonyan was also a member of the Green Bay Packers from 2018 to 2022, so he's very familiar with all of the teams inside the NFC North.

During his 17 appearances with Chicago last season, he only managed to accumulate 11 catches for 112 yards. However, Tonyan finished with at least 50 receptions, 450 yards, and two touchdowns in two of his previous four years in the league.

Minnesota's newest player joins a tight end group that includes Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse, Sammis Reyes, and rookie Trey Knox. At the very least, Tonyan gives the Vikings some additional tight-end depth as they continue to conduct their OTA sessions before training camp begins in the summer.

Given the fact that Tonyan has performed at a high level in the NFL before, is Minnesota bringing him in as insurance in case Hockenson isn't ready for the start of the 2024 regular season?

It's certainly possible, but at least the Vikings are taking the necessary steps in case their top tight end needs more time to recover from his knee injury.

Minnesota could've easily rolled into the 2024 season with Oliver and Mundt at the top of their depth chart, but their combined 39 catches in 2023 clearly weren't sufficient enough to prevent the team from going out and signing Tonyan on Thursday.

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