That Former Gopher WR Is Available Again

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On Monday, the Las Vegas Raiders signed wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson, an undrafted free agent who entered the league in 2020 and has since played for the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and Raiders.

To make room for Wilkerson, Las Vegas waived former University of Minnesota standout WR Tyler Johnson.

That Former Gopher WR Is Available Again

And yes, he’s the guy Vikings fans clamored for during the 2020 NFL Draft, solely because of the Gophers connection.

That Former Gopher
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The Raiders enter a new era at quarterback in 2023 with Jimmy Garoppolo, and Johnson evidently isn’t in the team’s plans. Johnson became semi-popular during a two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — right when Tom Brady arrived, and the club won a Super Bowl.

Johnson now hits the waiver wire and can be scooped by anyone in order of 2022 team win-loss standing.

Texans Waive Popular Former Gopher
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Some Vikings fans will inevitably wonder if there’s room for Johnson on Minnesota’s depth chart. The short answer is probably not. Here’s the Vikings WR group as of May 16th:

  • WR1: Justin Jefferson
  • WR2: Jordan Addison
  • WR3: K.J. Osborn
  • WR4: Jalen Nailor
  • WR5: Jalen Reagor
  • WR6: Brandon Powell
  • WR7: Blake Proehl
  • WR8: Trishton Jackson
  • WR9: Cephus Johnson
  • WR10: Malik Knowles
  • WR11: Thayer Thomas

About five or six of those men will make the September roster, so, in theory, if Minnesota grabbed Johnson, he’d have to oust Jalen Reagor or Brandon Powell from a job — if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is interested in Johnson at all. There’s no reason to believe he’s on the Vikings free-agent radar.

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After the Vikings traded EDGE rusher Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns on Friday, Minnesota actually has some cap space for the first time in a while. The move saved about $10 million, and the Vikings sit around $11 million in cap room. It’s just unclear if another wide receiver is a priority.

In 33 career games, Johnson has accrued 48 receptions on 72 targets for 529 yards and 2 touchdowns. When the 2022 season rolled around, the Buccaneers said no thanks to the ex-Gopher, and he latched on to the Houston Texans. He wasn’t used at all on offense in Houston.

A Super Bowl champion with the 2020 Buccaneers, Johnson had a marvelous NCAA career at Minnesota. The 24-year-old tabulated 213 catches for 3,305 yards and 33 receiving touchdowns as a Gopher en route to two 1st-Team All-Big Ten honors in 2018 and 2019.

The Vikings have two former Gophers on the current roster — Esezi Otomewo (DT) and Sam Schlueter (OL).

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by