[NOTE:  Click the links to see our free agency rankings for quarterbacksrunning backsfullbacks,tight ends, centers, guards, and offensive tackles.  We’ll continue our way through all of the positions this week.]

The media is currently in the middle of regurgitating old Percy Harvin storylines, but the truth is that nobody has any idea how that whole situation is going to shake out.  What we do know is that the Vikings need to arm their offense with pass catching weapons, and losing a guy like Harvin would be one huge step backwards, which is not a direction they can really afford to go in.

The Vikings need so much help at receiver, in fact, I would consider almost every option to be viable and would fully expect to see some fireworks during free agency.  Here are some of the options:

Top Tier

1.  Dwayne Bowe, KC

There is no doubt that Bowe’s career has been plagued by inconsistencies and a knucklehead attitude.  With that being said, the guy is very talented and has produced at a high level despite poor quarterbacks filtering through Kansas City over the years, and that offense misses him greatly when he isn’t there.  He would immediately provide some legitimacy to the Vikings offense.

2.  Greg Jennings, GB

It has been two years since Jennings has really put together an entire season of Pro Bowl quality play, but the guy just needs to stay healthy and that potential is certainly still there.  Stealing a division opponent’s great player is an added bonus, and he could certainly be a veteran leader on an offense that could use one.

3.  Mike Wallace, PIT

Wallace had a horrible 2012 season, but we all know that the blazing speed and incredible potential is still there, and if he lands in the right situation he could really tear up the league.  With that being said, I’m not sure that Christian Ponder is the quarterback to take advantage of Wallace’s speed, and he could end up being Bernard Berrian version 2.0 if he lands with the Vikings.

4.  Wes Welker, NE

I am not a fan of the age thing here, but Welker has arguably been the best wide receiver in the NFL over the last five years from a consistency standpoint.  Ponder and the Vikings could certainly use some consistency, veteran presence, and a working man’s attitude on the offense for a couple of seasons.

5.  Ramses Barden, NYG

Here is my crazy man’s flier of the day-week-month.  I have been enamored with Barden’s potential ever since he was a rookie out of Cal-Poly.  I wanted the Vikings to select him in the third round, but the Giants picked him one spot in front of the Vikings, and they had to settle for Asher Allen.  Barden is one of the tallest receivers in the league, has adequate speed coupled with blazing athleticism, and I still believe he could be a number one receiver on a number of NFL teams.  Stuck behind Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Victor Cruz in New York means he has low miles and the sky could still be the limit.

Second Tier

6.  Brian Hartline, MIA

7.  Danny Amendola, STL

8.  Brandon Gibson, STL

9.  Donnie Avery, IND

10.  Johnny Knox, CHI

11.  Ted Ginn, SF

12.  Joshua Cribbs, CLE

13.  Chaz Schilens, NYJ

14.  Domenik Hixon, NYG

15.  Micheal Spurlock, SD

16.  Steve Smith, STL

17.  Jerome Simpson, MIN

18.  Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE

19.  Deion Branch, NE

20.  Louis Murphy, CAR

21.  Devery Henderson, NO

22.  Brandon Stokley, DEN

23.  Julian Edelman, NE

24.  Devin Aromashodu, MIN

25.  Matt Willis, DEN

26.  Derek Hagan, OAK

27.  Donte’ Stallworth, NE

28.  Plaxico Burress, PIT

29.  Braylon Edwards, NYJ

30.  Sammie Stroughter, TB

31.  Roscoe Parrish, TB

32.  Brandon Tate, CIN

33.  Kassim Osgood, DET

34.  Austin Collie, IND

35.  Courtney Roby, NO

36.  Ruvell Martin, BUF

37.  Kevin Ogletree, DAL

38.  Randy Moss, SF

39.  Donald Driver, GB

34 COMMENTS

  1. The Vikes should be all over Barden. I think you could look at a short term deal like Manningham did with the 49ers last year as a starting point. I also think Ogletree is worth a look, the guy stepped up in nationally televised games. The Vikes could use a guy like that seeing how the team seems to turn into one giant deer staring into a set of headlights everytime they are on primetime tv.

  2. now we’re talkin. i’ll take the first three

    problem is, these are free agents, with no draft cards. we can’t make them come to mn. the better WRs will have other offers from teams with actual QBs. wilf, open your wallet and SHOW ME THE MONEY!

  3. Donald Driver retired so he should be off the list..
    – but then again some other old Green Bay Packer retired and came back.
    I really like all the top 5 options besides Wes Welker.. not that he isn’t a great receiver but I think we have plenty of slots receivers (off cources if something happens to harvin that might not be the case anymore)

  4. Barden is the only one on this list that intrigues me… Especially since he should be a tier or two below in terms on price. We are gonna need at least one FA WR, but I’d rather go for one early in the draft and go after oe of Buffalo’s FAs (Byrd or Levitre) if we are gonna spend big on a FA. The big name wideout, to me at least, done seem to be great fits.. Bowe is gonna get paid like a stud number one, but he’s not one. Jennings is injury prone and past it, Wallace would be a terrible fit, as we never go deep.

  5. Johny Knox had a serious back injury… He is down to 135 lbs and needs the help of a harness to run.
    You can leave him on your list if you want… I wish him the best in his recovery!

    Anyway, I like Barden’s 6’6 frame but his 4.61 combine 40 times doesn’t make me drool.

    Brian Hartline has a great work ethic.

    I am just not too thrilled with any of the FA WRs.

    This is a deep WR draft class… I would draft at least 2 WRs in April. I would also take look at moving Webb to WR.

        • I think it is important for a wide receiver to be able to catch with his hands away from his body.
          Catching the ball at its high point is a valuable skill. It helps a QB out a lot when he can throw away from the defender and outside of the WR’s body and he can still pluck it out of the air.

          Kyle Rudolph is much better at it than most NFL WRs. Harvin has gotten much better at plucking the ball, but he is certainly not polished at that art.

          No question Webb would need time to develop his hands and route running. Webb has only taken 20 snaps as an NFL WR. I would like to see him targeted a few times this preseason so I can see for myself if he is a playmaker like Harvin or if he just has brick hands.

  6. You can google joe webb youtube highlights uab 2007 wide receiver and see a little nugget of a hightlight video. He had good games against Florida State and Michingan State catching the ball and getting into the endzone.
    In those 2 games he had 12 catches for almost 190 yards and 2 TDs.
    He caught 30 receptions that year and 16 were for 15 or more yards.

    He was drafted in the 6th round as a WR so he can’t be that bad. I think he would be better than what we have now (besides Harvin). Harvin doesn’t drop many balls but some scouts didn’t think he was a true WR or had great skill at plucking the ball with his hands. Percy was a bit raw as a WR at one point but he has done just fine in the NFL.

    Yes, Webb is raw as a WR but he might be ok. I need to see him drop balls before I say he can’t catch or play WR. Right now I have NOT seen any reports that he can’t catch or he drops balls. Raw as a route runner and raw plucking skill as a WR yes. But I think he is worth a look in preseason as a WR for sure.

    Percy is an athletic physical freak… he doesn’t drop balls but he is not the “route runner” nor does he have the smooth hands of a Cris Carter that can catch away from his body.

    I don’t think Joe Webb has the skill set to catch the ball away from his body at this point in his career… but that doesn’t mean he can’t catch and use his athletic ability to make plays.

    • Carl,
      Checked it out, Hopefully he gets a chance to get more playing time. And not at just the Qb position !

  7. Webb is entering his 4th season and is 26 years old, we’re not talking about a rookie anymore. I honestly think it is too late to switch him back to WR, atleast here in Minnesota. That’s not to say they can’t tinker around with running him out wide after being in the backfield of a wildcat type formation to see if they get a good match up every now and then, but to expect him to focus exclusively on the WR position after being a QB for the last three years is unrealistic in my opinion. Whether he can catch the ball or not, he never had a chance to learn how to run routes at an NFL level, and that likely isn’t going to happen overnight. I also think he would ask to be traded if the Vikes told him they were going to try him at WR again. He’s in the last year of his contract and several teams across the league are using that zone read attack. There would be a market for him in that type of system so I don’t know why he’ld let the Vikes dork him around for this year with a position change if there was another team or two interested in letting him play the position he wants to play.

  8. Well i wished they would tinker around with him to Use him to his abilities…
    It will interesting seeing who will be the Back up Qb this year…

  9. The YouTube video that features Webb as a WR is called:
    2007 UAB Football Preview- Wide Receivers

    sorry, I don’t know how to post videos but it will give you a little glimps of Joe as a wide out.

  10. Another YouTube video is:
    Sam Hunt – Quarterback and Musician

    In this video you will see Webb make a great one handed catch in the end zone from a pass thrown by Sam Hunt.

    Don’t tell me Webb is not a playmaker and is not worth looking at or developing as a wide receiver.

    • I know Joe Webb is a playmaker, I’m just saying it’s a waste of time to try and make him a full time receiver when he’s likely going to leave as a free agent after next season. They would be better off drafting Marquise Gray or Denard Robinson and start fresh. Maybe I’m wrong, but I highly doubt Webb would want to go back to the receiver position with the Vikes. He’s going to have an opportunity to cash in as a backup QB with a zone read team like Washington a year from now. He’ll likely make more money if he remains a QB and gets a chance to come off the bench and make a few plays if Ponder gets hurt. I don’t think his future is with the Vikings.

  11. Freds is pretty sure this here dude can’t run routes, can only make basket catches and has never been seen to drop a pass, so let’s give him a look see at the NFL level. But he looks pretty damn athletic, no?

  12. Dan T- You make great points… giving up on Webb and developing D Robinson would cost us a draft pick. I am pretty sure Webb has more skill as a WR at this point than D Robinson.

    Webb has always been a team player willing to do as coaches tell him. You are right on the money that Joe’s value as a free agent may influence his willingness to play a certain position. Agian, I think you are right that some teams will have an interest in Webb as a backup QB. However, a starting WR can make more than a backup QB.

    It will not hurt Webbs value any to prove he can also play WR. How does taking a few snaps at WR hurt his value anymore than him standing on the sidelines holding a clip board and taking 0 snaps as a QB.

    If I am Joe Webb’s agent… I already know I CAN’T sell him as a starting QB. The truth of the matter is right now the Vikings and other teams are questioning if Joe is even a good #2 QB option?

    If Joe has another year like last year, his demand as a free agent will drop. Washington and San Fran already have great backups!!!

    Joe needs a breakout year if he wants to cash in as a free agent.

  13. Dan T- Denard Robinson a better prospect than Joe Webb? Really?
    Robinson is 5-11 and people are questioning his speed concentration skills.
    Webb is 6-3 220 with 4.4 speed

    Robinson only caught 3 balls in his career at Michigan. Webb caught 32 at UAB.

    Robinson rushed for 4495 yards in 723 attempts for a 6.21 yrd average on a very good Michigan team.

    Webb ran for 2774 yrds on 516 attempts for 5.37 average on a very bad UAB team.

    Webbs pro stats as a runner and rec (regular season and playoffs)- 1 kickoff return for 30 yrds, 1 rec for 9 yrds, 48 rushing attempts 341 yrds… that is a crazy 7.6 average per touch.

    I like Webb… I would find a place for him on the field.

    • When did I say that Denard Robinson is a better pro prospect than Joe Webb??? I just made the point that if you want to mess around converting a QB to a WR than you may as well do it with a guy that has a fresh 4 year contract instead of a pending free agent who may or may not be getting irritated about how his role and position change every year. NFL players have a short shelf life, every year the Vikings don’t stick to a decision with Webb it costs him money, so even though I completely agree with you that Joe has been a team player, I really have doubts he would go for it. There is also a huge difference between saying you want to see Webb take a few snaps a game at WR and saying he could be a starter. I personally do think they should line him up out wide every now and then to keep a defense honest, but they can do that and leave him alone as a backup QB. If you want to develope him into a starting receiver you need to drop the QB tag and have him practice every day as a WR. It’s the only way he would have a chance going into his 4th year, he must learn how to run consistent routes if you want him to be anything more than a 3 play a game gimmick. Also, when I do posts about players some of what I write comes from how I believe our current coaches will treat a situation, not neccesarily how I would do it if I were in charge. I don’t think Musgrave is a real creative guy, and it would take a creative coach to get the most out of Joe Webb’s abilities. Musgrave is more of a “box” guy, he wants all his players to fit into a certain box and Webb is an outside the box player. Our current coaches don’t seem to believe in Joe Webb the WR, so I don’t see him turning into a WR with the Vikings.
      Quick disclaimer, I actually view Robinson as a undrafted rookie free agent right now, I am much more intrigued with Gray’s pro potential than Robinson’s. Not a fan of the Michigan product at the moment at all, just used his name as a comparable because he’s a conversion guy. I do like Gray a lot though. Not sure what he’ll be, but I’ve got a feeling he’ll play if the right coach gets a hold of him.

  14. Good stuff Dan.. I will have to check out this Marquise Gray guy.
    I agree with your thoughts on Musgrave and of your understanding that what the coaches want and what Joe Webb wants will determine how he is best used.

    Yes, I think every year there are questions about how Webb will be used.. but for the most part he has primarily focused on playing QB – I don’t see him being irritated by that. You may be right that the conversion process from QB to WR is not worth the effort at this point in his contract. I can understand that converting from QB to WR could be more than a 1 year process. I can buy all that.

    I enjoyed the debate… I will rank you up with Malte as one of the great debators here at VT. Thanks

  15. It was a good debate. Most thought Gray would be headed for an H-Back role in the NFL, but I believe I read he checked in at 235 (down from a listed 245) at his recent all-star game and was shorter than the 6-4 the Gophers had him listed at, so he may be trying to slim down to make a run at WR in the pros. Biggest question mark I have on him is speed, but he’s a powerful guy that’s shown playmaking ability…much like Webb.

    • I think if they need a guy like that they should find someone in the mold of McClauster (not sure i spelled it right) but he seems like a shifty RB with good WR abilities

  16. Noooooooooo! They just gave Frazier a MULTI year extension… Well time to root for the wild because they’re the only team that will win a playoff game for however long multi year is.

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