The NFL trade deadline has come and gone, and the Minnesota Vikings were among the list of teams that made a move.
The Vikings acquired tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions on Tuesday as well as a fourth-round pick in 2023 and a conditional pick in 2024 in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick.
The Vikings have transitioned to an 11-personnel passing offense (three wide receivers) with Kirk Cousins under rookie coach Kevin O'Connell. Their running game has gone from zone to power. That means they are less reliant on using two tight ends and needed a healthy, versatile one, equally adept at receiving and blocking.
Hockenson gives them much more pop at tight end than the occasional red zone usage of the next man up after Irv Smith, Jr., and Johnny Mundt. Hockenson can be a dangerous intermediate target playing off Justin Jefferson as well as get down and dirty to pave the way better for Dalvin Cook. Given O'Connell's Rams background and his new tight end's alma mater, Hockenson will serve as part Tyler Higbee, part George Kittle.
Howe noted Cousins is 20th in the NFL in frequency of targeting tight ends at just 18.9 percent. Smith has played 52.9 percent of the total snaps so far this season, which ranks 27th among tight ends.
Smith was placed on Injured Reserve Tuesday and will be out at least four games.
Howe added Hockenson is fifth among tight ends this year in receiving yards (395), first in yards per catch (15.19) and second in average yards after the catch (8.04).
Miller said Hockenson brings more to the Vikings than just another pass-catching target. He wrote:
Hockenson doesn't simply help as a weapon in the passing game for O'Connell. Part of Hockenson's massive appeal coming out of Iowa was his outrageous blocking ability. While that hasn't always been the case at the NFL level, the physical ability to be a dominant run blocker at the position remains. In a league where it's tough finding tight ends that can do both, the Vikings have.
Minnesota currently ranks 18th in team DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and 11th in offensive DVOA. They're coming up with ways to win one-score games at the moment. Adding another option in the passing game and what should be an upgrade in the run game is a step forward for a team that will need to lean on their offense as the season progresses.
View photos of Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson who was traded to the team on Nov. 1.
Not every analyst agreed with the trade, though.
Eric Edholm of NFL.com gave both the Vikings and Lions a "C+."
There is a double-edged quality to this trade. There are reasons to like it for both sides and also reasons to question it for each.
This offense now is very difficult to defend, with Hockenson giving Minnesota a middle-of-the-field dimension. He's tough and was well-liked in Detroit, so he should fit in well in his new locker room.
But Minnesota also gave up some decent assets and, as things stand now, will be shorthanded in each of the next two drafts. Hockenson is capable of taking over a game once in a while, but he's had only two career 100-yard receiving games (including one earlier this season vs. Seattle). And eventually Cousins' contract will be off the books, but until it is, the Vikings salary-cap situation will need some major work this coming offseason.
Star Tribune: Trade deadline moves add to competitive fire from NFL this season
The Vikings weren't the only team to make a move prior to the trade deadline on Tuesday.
A record 11 trades were made on Tuesday, the most ever conducted on the deadline day, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune recently said the amount of trades on Tuesday could be tied to the competitiveness seen throughout the NFL so far this season.
Seventy-one games have been decided by one score. That's an NFL record through eight games that Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell referred to on Monday, a day after his team won its fifth straight one-score game, 34-26 over Arizona.
"We're still looking for ultimate consistency across the board," he said. "You're seeing that each and every game in this league is going to come down to a few plays here and there that really are the difference between it being those one-score games or maybe having the chance to put away some of our opponents [earlier]."
Last season, 14 of 17 Vikings games ended with a one-score margin, including eight losses. Minnesota is currently 5-0 in that same category this year.
Craig said the New York Giants are the only team in the NFL with more wins in one-score games at six. The Philadelphia Eagles – the league's only unbeaten team at 7-0 – join the Dallas Cowboys (2-0) and the Vikings as the only teams among the top seven in the NFC Conference to be perfect in such games.
Minnesota faces Washington on Sunday, with the Commanders having won three consecutive one-score games by a combined eight points.
Mixing in a nice, needed boost at the trade deadline with this team's ability to win close games could make O'Connell's first season even more memorable for how it ends.