Vikings WR Returns after Clearing Waivers

Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Malik Knowles (4) reacts after a missed pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings waived undrafted rookie wide receiver Malik Knowles on Monday, presumably to clear room for the team’s roster additions, which included TE Colin Thompson, OG Jack Snyder, and OT Bobby Evans.

Vikings WR Returns after Clearing Waivers

But Knowles returned this week after clearing waivers and will now live indefinitely on the non-football-injury (NFI) list.

Vikings WR Returns
Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) blocks a pass intended for Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Malik Knowles (4) during the second half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports.

The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling tweeted Tuesday, “Vikings receiver Malik Knowles, who was waived on Monday with an injury designation, cleared waivers and will head to the reserved/non-football injury list.”

After the 2023 NFL Draft, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah onboarded oodles of UDFAs, notably including LB Ivan Pace Jr. (Cincinnati) and EDGE rusher Andre Carter II (Army), and Knowles was a part of that class.

Nov 19, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Malik Knowles (4) catches a pass and runs for extra yards during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports.

The nature of Knowles’ injury has yet to be disclosed, and it is unclear how long he’ll live on the NFI list. It could be for a week, the entire 2023 season, or in between. More clarity should follow from the Vikings soon.

Knowles, 22, has been a bold pick by some to make the Vikings 53-man roster at the end of August. He earned 1st-Team All-Big 12 honors at Kansas State in 2021, followed by 2nd-Team All-Big 12 in 2022. VikingsWire’s Tyler Forness published a regular season roster projection on Monday and included Knowles in the five-man WR corps.

Iowa State defensive back Beau Freyler (17) knocks the ball away from Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles in the end zone for an Iowa State touchback during an NCAA college football game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. © Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Last weekend, VikingsTerritory’s Kyle Joudry predicted one of the new UDFA WRs could earn WR5 consideration, and he named Knowles specifically, “We see one of the relatively unknown depth receivers — I’ve got my eye on Malik Knowles — catapult himself into the conversation for WR5 responsibilities. Impressing a pair of coordinators (Sp/T & O) will be the key, so Knowles is certainly someone to monitor.”

The Vikings have Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, Jordan Addison, and Jalen Nailor on deck as ‘locks’ for the WR room in 2023, with men like Knowles, Jalen Reagor, Brandon Powell, and Thayer Thomas, among others, vying for the fifth or sixth WR spot.

Sep 3, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Malik Knowles (4) follows running back Deuce Vaughn (22) on his way to a touchdown on the opening kickoff against the South Dakota Coyotes at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports.

The six-foot-two, 200-pounder tallied 1867 receiving yards on 127 catches for 18 total touchdowns in five seasons at Kansas State. He caught many of those passes from Miami Dolphins quarterback Skylar Thompson, who the Vikings faced in 2022.

Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline described Knowles’ skillset leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, “Tall, surehanded receiver who also impacts games as a kick returner. Uses his hands to separate from defenders, shields away opponents with his frame, and gets vertical then adjusts or contorts in midair to make the reception.”

We shall see if Knowles actionizes a long-term future in Minnesota. He’s back after a day unclaimed on waivers.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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