June 24, 2024

The Minnesota Vikings are signing veteran tight end Robert Tonyan, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Tonyan, 30, is in his seventh NFL season and has previously played for two other NFC North teams. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

After going undrafted, Tonyan joined the Green Bay Packers late in the 2017 season. He didn’t see much action in 2018 and 2019, but had a breakout year in 2020 with 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns, playing in every game. He added eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.

Vikings sign former Packers TE Robert Tonyan

Tonyan tore his ACL during the 2021 season but returned to play all 17 games in both 2022 and 2023. Last offseason, he signed with the Chicago Bears and primarily served as a secondary tight end. He started six games, catching 11 passes for 112 yards without scoring a touchdown for the first time in his six-year career.

Tonyan has started 24 of the 85 games he’s played in the NFL, scoring 17 touchdowns and averaging over 10 yards per reception. These are impressive stats for an undrafted player from an FCS school.

Tonyan has a chance to earn significant playing time early in the season, as starting tight end TJ Hockenson tore his ACL and MCL last December and is likely to begin the season on injured reserve. The other tight ends on the Vikings’ roster include Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, and Nick Muse.

The Vikings are coming off a seven-win season, having started four different quarterbacks after Kirk Cousins went down with a torn Achilles. This was a stark contrast to their 2022 season when they won the division with 13 regular-season victories. They could not replicate that success in 2023.

In response to Cousins’ departure, the Vikings drafted national champion QB JJ McCarthy in the first round. Although the 21-year-old might not start immediately, with Sam Darnold potentially taking the helm in Week 1, it would be wise for Minnesota to give McCarthy multiple starts this season. The only scenario that might prevent this is if Darnold plays exceptionally well.

Minnesota has an even schedule in 2024, ranking 18th in strength of schedule among the 32 NFL teams. They face five playoff teams from last season, including two games each against the Packers and the Detroit Lions.

Robert Tonyan continues to 'shock the world' during breakout season

Kevin O’Connell could earn some coach of the year votes if the Vikings stay competitive deep into the season and flirt with a winning record. If Justin Jefferson returns to form, Minnesota’s offense should be strong. The Vikings could be a team to watch in 2024.

 

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