Former Vikings WR Weighing FA Offers from Teams

Vikings Free Agent WR Could Be Back for Sequel
Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

Former Minnesota Vikings WR Dede Westbrook was signed in 2021 to fill the team’s punt-return duties and perhaps contend for a WR3 job.

Westbrook ultimately became the team’s punt returner but never took off inside Minnesota’s offense. While Minnesota may have expressed interest in re-upping with Westbrook in 2022, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed Albert Wilson in May for “the Westbrook role.”

With Westbrook unlikely to return to the Vikings, the veteran wideout is reportedly “weighing offers” from at least a few NFL teams, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.

In 2021, Westbrook was only targeted 15 times in Minnesota’s offense, grabbing 10 receptions for 68 yards. It was the lowest target load of his career in a season with a clean bill of health. At the peak of his power in Jacksonville, Westbrook was targeted 101 times per season (2018 and 2019), so his decision not to re-sign with the Vikings is unsurprising.

Fifteen punt returners attempted 20+ punt returns in 2021, and Westbook ranked ninth of the 15 per returned-yards average (8.3). He also fumbled twice.

Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

With no Westbrook back returning punts, Minnesota is expected to host an open competition for the job at training camp, an event beginning Sunday. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, K.J. Osborn, rookie Jalen Nailor, and the aforementioned Wilson are the presumed contenders for the gig.

Teams perhaps interested in Westbrook’s services? The New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, or maybe even the Chicago Bears with their budget-based WR affinity.

Westbrook unsigned by midsummer is a popular trend for ex-Vikings players. Mackensie Alexander (CB), Anthony Barr (LB), Everson Griffen (DE), Linval Joseph (NT), Riley Reiff (OT), Sheldon Richardson (DL), and Xavier Rhodes (CB) remain available on the open market.

Westbrook will turn 29 in November.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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