Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson will be a Detroit Lion through at least the 2023 season, but Lions general manager Brad Holmes hinted that it might be a lot longer than that.
At NFL owners meetings this week, Holmes confirmed he intends to pick up the fifth-year option on Hockenson's rookie contract, which would cost the Lions $9.4 million next year. The team has until May 2 to officially pick up the option.
But Holmes is hoping a longer-term deal can be worked out before the fifth-year option comes into play, similar to center Frank Ragnow, when the team picked up his fifth-year option for 2022, but signed him to a long-term contract before it was implemented.
"Hockenson, obviously, he's a big part of what we did last year," Holmes said. "It was unfortunate when he became unavailable for us (due to a thumb injury late in the year), but he's another (player) that we'll continue to lean on this year."
Hockenson was on his way to surpassing his Pro Bowl numbers from 2020 last season before the thumb injury. He had 61 receptions for 583 yards and four scores in 12 games. He caught 67 balls for 723 yards and six touchdowns as a Pro Bowler in 2020.
Holmes said the team also has interest in extending another one of its core youngsters, cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who is entering the final year of his contract in 2022, and is coming off a breakout 2021 season that saw him finish third in the NFL with six interceptions this past season.
"Amani, just another example of a guy that had his best season last year, so it just correlates back to that narrative of signing back our own guys," Holmes said. "Amani, with the ball production that he had and just being a good teammate, he really developed as a leader.
"He's going to be another one – he's still a young guy that, as is often said sometimes, still has meat left on the bone. There's still upside in him. Those guys will be important discussions that we have to have for the future, but those guys are productive players for us and we're excited about them this year."
Holmes' approach to free agency this offseason has been re-signing a lot of their own players who he sees as core pieces to the roster, players like safety Tracy Walker, outside linebacker Charles Harris and wide receivers Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond.
Re-signing Hockenson and Oruwariye would align with that strategy.