Vikings Need to Find a Friend for Justin Jefferson

Players React to Justin
Feb 9, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, US; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson poses for a photo on the red carpet before the NFL Honors award show at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings saw Justin Jefferson put up otherworldly numbers. He was tracking to surpass Calvin Johnson’s single-season marks, and Kevin O’Connell’s offense certainly had him in the spotlight. The problem was that teams knew they could sell out to take him away.

Find a Friend
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in action during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

There was never a point at which Adam Thielen was returning to the Vikings on his scheduled cap number. The two sides looked at options, but ultimately, they decided they would part ways. Thielen wound up in Carolina and will get a chance to be a number one again, but Minnesota has work to do.

Vikings Need to Find a Friend for Justin Jefferson

Even before Irv Smith Jr. went down with another injury, it was clear the Vikings offense needed to provide Kirk Cousins with more pass catchers. Thielen had lost a step, and generating separation was not something he could do as often. K.J. Osborn flashed some bright spots, but when the dust settled, his numbers checked in below where they were a season ago. Bringing in T.J. Hockenson was a necessary and smart move, but he only replaced Smith Jr.’s absence.

The free-agent crop of wide receivers is not great, and it’s clear that Minnesota doesn’t have a plethora of funds to dole out at the top. The team appeared to be a potential landing spot for Odell Beckham Jr. last year, and although he has yet to sign, it seems that ship has sailed. Maybe the Vikings are still searching for a diamond in the rough, but a better bet is to look in the draft.

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) against the Cincinnati Bengals during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

How high the Vikings select a wideout remains to be seen. It’s not as though they don’t have plenty of holes to fill, and a quarterback being available in the first round could drastically change their plans. Realistically, it would behoove general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to have fluid plans and see how the board falls for Minnesota.

Everyone involved regarding the Vikings roster construction knows Justin Jefferson needs a friend. Someone that can take pressure off him on the opposite side of the field is a must. Another capable receiver would reduce safeties getting shade over the top, and the offense would see a significant uptick in opportunities to push the football.

Writer Claims Justin
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

How Minnesota lands that player, or who it is, remains a mystery. Dalvin Cook could potentially be parlayed into additional draft capital or an asset, but the Vikings haven’t given away hints in that regard. When the dust settles, you can bet that Jefferson would welcome any talent to further allow him to exploit the opposition across the NFL.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.