4 WRs for Vikings to Target in 2023
Justin Jefferson is a finalist for both NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year — deservedly so. However, his mammoth production came partly because his team had no choice but to feed him the ball. On days when the Vikings best WR was limited, so was their offense.
T.J. Hockenson was a vital addition at the trade deadline, giving Kirk Cousins another reliable target, especially in have-to-have-it situations. K.J. Osborn had his moments and showed plenty of heart, but his and Adam Thielen’s inability to consistently separate and make contested catches left the Vikings with just one real threat at wide receiver.
Weapons are currency in today’s NFL. San Francisco has Samuel, Kittle, McCaffrey, and Aiyuk. Philadelphia has Brown, Smith, Goedert, and Sanders. Cincinnati has Chase, Higgins, Boyd, and Mixon. Where things stand today, Minnesota really just has a Jefferson and a Hockenson.
They need help.
4 WRs for Vikings to Target in 2023
With Thielen’s potential departure looming, there is a practical side to Minnesota’s need for an additional wide receiver; somebody’s got to line up out there. And unless Kevin O’Connell and Keenan McCardell are confident that Jalen Nailor or Jalen Reagor can make giant leaps, receiver help needs to come from the outside.
There are three means by which Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell can bolster their wide receiver room and give Jefferson a true WR2: through the draft, free agency, and trade.
To make it clear to their franchise player that they are in the business of winning, bringing in proven receiving talent to help the offense now would go a long way in assuring that Jefferson’s first big NFL contract is with the team that drafted him.
So, for this thought exercise, we’re excluding the draft as a means of adding talent. Free agency and trade only. Let’s look at four WRs that could become Robin to Jefferson’s Batman, Pippen to his Jordan, or Watson to his Holmes. You get the idea.
Higgins has the highest payout and the largest risk of this group. With only one year remaining until he hits free agency, the Vikings could give up a lot for what could essentially become a one-year rental unless they are willing to pay big money to two receivers.
Higgins is as good of a WR2 as the league has to offer. Even while sharing touches with the aforementioned Bengals stars — Chase, Boyd, and Mixon — Higgins has still racked up 1000-yard seasons in two of his three years in the league.
When Chase went down with an injury for four weeks this year, Cincinnati’s offense didn’t miss a beat. Higgins averaged 92.3 yards per game and scored 2 TDs, while the Bengals went 3-1 and started their ongoing 10-game winning streak.
Although seeing former Packers in purple may give Vikings fans cold sweats, the move from Green Bay to Minneapolis isn’t unheard of. Ryan Longwell, Brett Favre, Greg Jennings, and Za’Darius Smith are just some that have made the switch late in their careers.
Lazard spent many seasons as a distant second fiddle to Davante Adams before it was assumed he would take over as WR1 in 2022. Between injuries and a meteoric rise from Christian Watson, Lazard settled in again as the second option on the outside, which is about suitable for his talent level.
An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Lazard made no commitments to return to Green Bay after the Packers’ Week 18 loss to Detroit. A player of his caliber could give Minnesota a sure-handed, veteran receiver who has played in big games to bring stability opposite Jefferson.
High expectations have surrounded Jeudy since being drafted 15th overall in 2020. But Denver’s inability to find stability at quarterback has slowed his production.
Russell Wilson’s arrival provided a glimpse into what Jeudy can be, especially as a deep threat. The Alabama product turned in his best season as a pro and led Denver in receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
With at least one year of team control remaining (plus a potential 5th-year option), Jeudy is a viable trade asset for a Broncos team looking to rebuild draft capital and already possesses Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, and K.J. Hamler in their WR room.
Vikings fans want a deep threat opposite Jefferson. Jeudy would provide that.
Too soon? Not two weeks ago, Slayton and his fellow unsung Giants teammates torched the loathsome Minnesota secondary in the Wildcard round, a game in which Slayton accounted for 91 total yards of offense.
His quickness and speed would give Kirk Cousins another legitimate receiving threat and one that could stretch the field. Along with leading New York in receiving, Slayton finished sixth in the NFL with a healthy 15.7 yards per reception.
The Auburn product would likely be cheaper than the others on this list, considering his unrestricted free-agent status and expected salary.
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Notes: Contract details were sourced from Spotrac. Statistics were sourced from Pro Football Reference.
Will is a husband, father, and earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. He is the co-host of the Load the Box Vikings Podcast with Jordan Hawthorn. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.
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