Robert Tonyan set to play for third NFC North team after TE signs deal with

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NFL stars and high-level contributors are able to find continuity, but most of the league’s players can play for a team one year and then another the next. That’s now the case for six-year veteran tight end Robert Tonyan, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced Thursday.

The former undrafted free agent out of Indiana State will suit up for his third NFC North division team in seven NFL seasons. The Vikings will technically be the fourth and final NFC North team Tonyan has practiced with as he initially signed with the Detroit Lions out of college in 2017.

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Tonyan saw his first playing time with the Green Bay Packers in 2018 after they signed him to their practice squad in December of 2017. Tonyan only caught 14 passes for 177 receiving yards and two touchdowns across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but he earned Aaron Rodgers’ trust in his final three seasons in Green Bay. Tonyan’s 1,260 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns from 2020-2022 both ranked third on the team behind All-Pro wideout Davante Adams and wide receiver Allen Lazard.

Once Green Bay transitioned to Jordan Love as the team’s starting quarterback, they allowed Tonyan to walk in free agency last season, and he went south to Illinois to play for the archrival Chicago Bears. He recorded just 11 catches and 112 receiving yards in 2023 as the Bears battled through inconsistency and injury with quarterback Justin Fields.

Tonyan finds a landing spot with the Vikings since their Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson is still recovering a torn ACL he suffered on Christmas Eve against the Detroit Lions. Hockenson, who may not be ready to play to start the 2024 season, expressed his happiness after seeing Tonyan signed in Minnesota:

If Hockenson isn’t ready or close to full speed early on, Tonyan will have an opportunity to connect with either Sam Darnold or 10th overall pick rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

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