2 Superstars Could Fix a Vikings Problem

Willing to Make Splashy
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Free agency starts with the legal tampering window on March 13, two days before the new league year begins and players can officially sign with a team. Organizations can fix some roster problems and fill up some open spots. The Vikings have many of them, for example, cornerback, linebacker, defensive tackle, and center.

However, another position, one that was the strength of the Vikings in the past, could also be addressed. Quarterback Kirk Cousins needs another wideout. The Vikings need a player who can take advantage of the frequent Justin Jefferson double teams and take some pressure off of him because neither K.J. Osborn nor Adam Thielen did a great job in that area.

2 Superstars Could Fix a Vikings Problem

To have two efficient wideouts is necessary for success in today’s NFL unless the name of the quarterback is Patrick Mahomes. He can win the Super Bowl with tight end Travis Kelce and a multitude of random receivers like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, and Kadarius Toney.

2 Superstars Could Fix a Vikings Problem
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His opponent in the Super Bowl, the Eagles, has two outstanding receivers on the outside — AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. The two teams in the big game a year ago also each had at least two dynamic playmakers. Sean McVay’s Rams lost Robert Woods during the season but still had Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. as weapons in the passing game. Woods could also be on the Vikings’ menu.

Similar was the situation of Joe Burrow’s Bengals. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins form an elite pass-catching duo, probably even the best in the business. In addition to those two, the Bengals have Tyler Boyd as a third option. In 2020, the Buccaneers triumphed in the Super Bowl with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown.

The Vikings employ two solid third options in Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn, but neither can consistently beat single coverage well enough to make the receiving corps outside of Jefferson feared in the league. T.J. Hockenson, the midseason tight-end acquisition, became the second option in the passing game, but the Vikings clearly lacked another dynamic outside threat.

That became obvious whenever Jefferson faced double teams and was shut down. The latest evidence was the wild card loss against the Giants. Someone had to step up, especially on the final play, but neither Thielen nor Osborn could get open.

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The Vikings could add more flexibility to the offense by signing another dangerous receiver in free agency. It could completely open up the offense and turn the unit into one of the elite offenses in the league. A couple of superstar free agents are available if the Vikings want them.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Thomas were previously viewed as elite receivers. In recent years, injuries dominated the two careers, but they were still effective when they were on the field.

Thomas led the league in receptions in 2018 and 2019, including the record for most catches in a year in NFL history with 149. In that same 2019 campaign, he recorded a league-leading 1,725 receiving yards. Ankle and toe injuries limited him to a total of only ten games in the last three seasons. In 2022, Thomas played in three games and scored three touchdowns.

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Adding him to the team would be a risk, but the upside is undeniable. PFF predicts his contract to be a one-year deal for $12.5 million with $10 million guaranteed. If he’s healthy and comes close to his prime level of play, the duo of Jefferson and Thomas would be one of the best in NFL history.

Thomas has missed a ton of time over the past few seasons, but he showed over very limited action in 2022 that he can still be a top pass catcher. With how weak the wide receiver free-agent class is, Thomas may be worth the gamble. Even in another injury-shortened 2022 campaign, Thomas flashed his elite ability. His 77.4 receiving grade ranked 12th among wide receivers, his three touchdown receptions tied for second and his eight contested catches were the most in the NFL through the first three weeks.

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Thomas is a possession receiver with great route-running ability, size, and hands. Like Jefferson, he can play outside and in the slot. It may be a gamble but could pay huge dividends if it works out.

The same can be said about OBJ. Beckham Jr. was an elite receiver with the Giants before injuries slowed him down. However, when last seen healthy in the Rams’ playoff run a season ago, he was a dangerous threat in the passing game next to the outstanding Cooper Kupp. The offense can be nearly unstoppable if he could do the same with Jefferson.

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While Thomas could be looking at a one-year prove-it deal, OBJ is in a position to sign a long-term contract. PFF projects the deal at $11 million per season for three years. That is a fair price for a good second receiver with enormous upside. However, similar to Thomas, the injuries are a concern. The receiver suffered two town ACLs in the last three years and hasn’t played football since the Super Bowl roughly 13 months ago.

Beckham’s postseason run with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021 was epic, even despite the fact he missed the second half of the Super Bowl, with his 84.7 receiving grade through the playoffs ranking fourth among wide receivers. Beckham’s four contested catches were tied for the most of any wide receiver, and his eight explosive receptions were tied for third most. When healthy, Beckham can still be one of the best separators at the position with his trademark elite skills at the catch point.


Beckham Jr. knows Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell from their tenure in Los Angeles, and he was in Cleveland when Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked there. In addition to that, he is a friend of Jefferson, the two share the same alma mater, LSU.

The Vikings currently employ Jefferson, the league’s top receiver, and the next two options are Thielen and Osborn. In addition, the team has Jalen Reagor under contract who has not shown much on offense, and 2022 sixth-rounder Jalen Nailor who flashed his potential at times. He could play a larger role in 2023.

The Vikings could also target a receiver in the draft. When the team is on the clock at position 23, some excellent receivers could be available, but it would cost them a valuable first-round pick. More intriguing could be the addition of a wideout in the third round.

Other available free agents like Mecole Hardman and DJ Chark come with a similar price tag, and both also missed time with injuries in the past. However, they seem like a safer bet but don’t offer the elite upside of Beckham Jr. and Thomas.

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