Vikings Sign New Receiver, Reunite Him With Kevin O’Connell

Dec 4, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell (19) runs the ball as wide receiver Ben Skowronek (18) provides coverage against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings’ receiving room is in a transition period. It used to be Adam Thielen’s room, paired with another star. However, that changed once the Vikings released the veteran prior to the start of free agency. He is now under contract with the Carolina Panthers. For the first time since 2012, the Vikings don’t have Thielen on the roster.

After releasing Thomas Hennigan on Tuesday, the purple team had to add some more bodies to the group. Only six receivers were left: Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Reagor, Jalen Nailor, Blake Proehl, and Trishton Jackson.

Vikings Sign New Receiver, Reunite Him With Kevin O’Connell

Vikings Sign New Receiver, Reunite Him With Kevin O’Connell
Dec 19, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell (19) tries to avoid a tackle by Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas (29) in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the purple team are anxiously waiting for Thielen’s successor as the number two guy in the receiving room, someone like D.J. Chark or Odell Beckham Jr., but instead, the Vikings added a necessary depth piece, former Rams receiver, Brandon Powell. Adam Schefter reported on Twitter: “Former Rams’ free-agent WR Brandon Powell reached agreement today a one-year deal with the Vikings, per source. Powell will be reuniting with former Rams’ OC and Vikings’ HC Kevin O’Connell.”

The new receiver in town is a return specialist. He is undersized with measurements of 5’8″ and 188 pounds but found a role in the NFL on special teams with his excellent agility and quickness.

Powell is 27 years old and came into the league in 2018 as an undrafted free agent. The wideout spent his rookie campaign with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. He recorded 129 receiving yards on 11 catches and a touchdown. Most of that production came in Week 17 when he drew the start against the Green Bay Packers. Powell had 103 yards in a 31-0 victory. He appeared in six games as a rookie but was waived on the final cutdown day the following year.

Nov 27, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandon Powell (19) returns a kickoff during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

His next step was with the Atlante Falcons. Atlanta signed him to the practice squad but he didn’t play a game in 2019. In 2020, however, Powell played in 15 games for the Falcons and started one contest. 12 receptions, 69 yards, and 2 touchdowns were his stats in that season.

In the 2021 offseason, Powell signed with the Buffalo Bills but failed to make the roster. After a short stint on the Dolphins’ practice squad, free agent Powell joined the Los Angeles Rams in November 2021. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was the offensive coordinator there.

He only had three snaps on O’Connell’s offense but had a prominent role as the team’s punt returner and the Vikings were on the wrong end of it. His only touchdown for the Rams was a punt return touchdown against the Vikings in Week 16. He is a Super Bowl champion.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Reagor (5) makes a catch while New York Jets safety Lamarcus Joyner (29) defends during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s likely that Powell was brought in to compete for the punt return job after Reagor didn’t live up to the expectations in 2022. The Vikings have struggled to fill that job ever since Marcus Sherels is no longer on the team.

Powell’s career stats on offense are 47 catches for 354 yards and 2 touchdowns. He returned 49 punts in his career for an average of 9.6 yards and returned 57 kickoffs in his career. For comparison, Reagor’s average punt return yardage in his career is 8.0, with a subpar average of 6.4 yards in 2022 for the Vikings.

Powell is unlikely to make a big impact on offense but if he can either usurp Reagor as the team’s punt returner or push him towards improving, he was a good signing. O’Connell might find a niche for his new guy and his quickness on offense as a gadget player.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt