Vikings Down to 4 Options at WR2

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) warms up before the first quarter of the NFL Week 18 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens at Paycor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings inactivity in prioritizing Adam Thielen’s replacement has become a paramount topic of the team’s offseason. It has to be someone, so who’s it gonna be?

Thielen trekked southeasterly last weekend and isn’t coming back, at least not in 2023. And as opposing defensive coordinators concoct more creative ways to tame Justin Jefferson on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and sometimes Saturdays, Minnesota needs a foolproof WR2 plan.

Vikings Down to 4 Options at WR2

Fast forward to Friday, and D.J. Chark signed in Carolina, joining Thielen and the big cats for a 2023 adventure sponsored by Andy Dalton and a quarterback to be named on April 27th. Nobody really cares that Chark is a Panther, but he did cross a WR2 option off the Vikings list.

So, the club is down to four methods for filling the WR2 job. These are those.

1. Promote K.J. Osborn

Vikings Down to 4
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The easiest technique — cultivate what you have. Osborn could theoretically bust out of his 2020-2022 cocoon and prove his WR2 worth. He only lacks consistency through three seasons in the NFL.

Yet, “this is how it goes” sometimes in sports. The next guy is called upon, shocks the masses with his skillset, and everyone’s happy. Nobody anywhere in June of 2021 believed Osborn would become the Vikings WR3. He was a lackluster late-round draft pick coming off a nothingburger rookie season. But then he did it; he was the Vikings WR3 by September. Perhaps the man is ready for the bright lights as Justin Jefferson’s sidekick.

Re-watch the tape of the Vikings triumph over the Colts if you need to be persuaded.

2. Sign Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham Nears Final Destination
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Coming off an ACL tear 13 months ago and a year off in 2022, Beckham needs a new gridiron home. And thanks to Kevin O’Connell’s employment as the Vikings head coach, that could reasonably be Minneapolis. The two won a championship together in Hollywood.

But do the Vikings trust an age-30 wide receiver coming off a serious knee injury? At what pricepoint?

The harsh reality on Beckham is this — he’s the only WR2 left on the free-agent market. The Vikings didn’t sign Jakobi Meyers, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, the aforementioned Chark, or anybody outside of WR-PR Brandon Powell.

If general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wants a proven WR2 from the free-agent market, that man is Beckham, who should be obtainable for about $8 million per season.

3. Trade for Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tee Higgins, or Other

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) turns downfield after completing a catch in the second quarter during a Week 11 NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. Nfl Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers Nov 20 0110.

Denver has about five wide receivers on the current roster who could claim to be a WR3 or better. Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton can make the case for WR1.

Well, Jeudy and Sutton are allegedly on the trade block, although Jeudy’s asking price is reportedly a “2nd-Rounder and a good veteran player.” Sutton won’t cost that much, but he also hasn’t done much lately — probably because of the Broncos vile quarterback play.

Otherwise, Tee Higgins has nibbled at trade rumor mills for about six weeks. The Vikings would have to send a 1st-Rounder to Cincinnati for Higgins — but perhaps he’s worth it? He’s notched back-to-back 1,000+ receiving yard campaigns, which is a guaranteed indicator of future production.

The annoying problem with any Vikings trade for a WR2 is obvious — donating draft capital elsewhere. Adofo-Mensah only has five draft picks for April’s party as it stands.

4. The Draft

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports.

For clarity, “the draft” means choosing a wide receiver in the 1st Round or early 2nd Round (if Adofo-Mensah trades back). Waiting until Round 3 for Thielen’s replacement isn’t a sure thing and would be a rubberstamp for Osborn to start Week 1 as the WR2.

However, about four men can slide onto the Vikings on April 27th and be classified as the WR2 that night — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Quentin Johnston (TCU), Zay Flowers (Boston College), or Jordan Addison (USC).

The Vikings are famous for one thing — and fans love it — drafting WRs. They’re setting themselves up to step on stage again in late April to recreate Mossian, Harvinian, and Jeffersonian magic.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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