Annually, Minnesota Vikings enthusiasts fantasize about two consistent football-related items. These are scheduled on their subconscious calendars, dribbling out into the open forum of social media.
The first involves Anthony Barr. Every year about this time – although the theory persists regardless of the time on a calendar – folks trick themselves into believing that Barr will be used an EDGE rusher in the upcoming season. Head coach Mike Zimmer often sends Barr to blitz. But formally lining Barr along the defensive line has not transpired consistently since he entered the business with Zimmer in 2014. That doesn’t matter, though. Fans habitually thirst for EDGE-rusher-Barr, ignoring the fact it never really happens. This season is no different – some people prophesy that Barr will be used to rush opposing passers because the current RDE options – Stephen Weatherly, D.J. Wonnum, Patrick Jones II – aren’t bonafide starters.
Week 1 will hit. Time will pass to Week 8. In January, we’ll look back and realize that Barr never actually played defensive end that season. Whooda thunk it?
The next fantasy? Larry Fitzgerald ending his career with the Vikings. That juicy conversation starter has loomed for about half of a decade, hitting 2021 on the calendar with its loudest fervor.
Fitzgerald is reaching the end of an illustrious, Hall of Fame career. He grew up in the Twin Cities, so he just has to play one year for the Vikings, right? That’s what the masses crave. Give the people what they want.
The topic even reached Albert Breer, who writes a weekly column for SI.com, as (surprise, surprise) a reader floated the Fitzgerald-to-Minnesota idea. Here’s how Bree replied:
“I was totally unaware of this story line until you asked the question—apparently Vikings fans have been talking about it for a while, and Fitzgerald was in Minnesota this week for a charity golf tournament, which raised some eyebrows to the possibility. Fitzgerald’s reinvented himself a few times over the years, and he managed 54 catches last year in 13 games at 37 years old in his 17th season, which is pretty amazing in itself. He’s also a free agent now for the first time. The Cardinals have seemingly kept the light on for Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald hasn’t dropped many clues as to what he wants to do. But I actually kind of like the fit for Fitzgerald in his home state. The Vikings are run-heavy, Fitzgerald’s been one of the NFL’s best blocking receivers and his versatility to play inside and out would allow new OC Klint Kubiak and the coaches to fit him in with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. He’d also probably be a tremendous resource for the emerging star Jefferson, and it’d allow him to give back to the Vikings—who had him out to work with Cris Carter as a teenager. To be clear, I don’t know if this is going to happen. Or if there’s even a chance of it. But it’s a pretty cool idea.”
Breer offers oodles of positivity and enthusiasm on the Fitzgerald pipe dream – and a lot of it makes sense. But sources tell VikingsTerritory that a Fitzgerald-Vikings relationship is severely unlikely, to the tune of less than 1%.
The Vikings have long glossed over any accentuated emphasis on the WR3 portion of the roster, instead employing players like Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, and Laquon Treadwell. Much like a respectable offensive line, filling the WR3 spot with a reputable pass-catcher is the Holy Grail or final frontier of Zimmer-led Vikings team.
Fitzgerald would drum up snap-of-the-fingers excitement for the 2021 Vikings, creating an aura for a potential storybook season. Glance into the future and listen to soundbites like “That was the year we had Fitz.”
His connections to Minnesota are vivid, but there is nothing to Fitzgerald-Vikings rumors – aside from fans asking for the hypothetical alliance each offseason.
Should the Vikings change course and decide to pluck a WR3 from free agency, Golden Tate and Dede Westbrook are available, too.