Former Pro Bowl WR Could Be Available Later This Summer

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The WR3 position on the Minnesota Vikings’ roster is a popular topic among fans, as no clear-cut candidate inherently owns the job.

Former Pro Bowl WR Could Be Available Later This Summer

Minnesota parted ways with K.J. Osborn this offseason, and he signed with the New England Patriots in March. For now, most believe Brandon Powell or Jalen Nailor will win the WR3 gig, with a dark horse in Trent Sherfield possibly turning heads at training camp and in the preseason.

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But if none of those suitors snatch the WR3 job, a semi-high-profile name might be available late next month — JuJu Smith-Schuster.

That’s the word from Bleacher Report after New England welcomed a new front office and coaching staff this offseason. Smith-Schuster might become expendable, and a man like — you guessed it — Osborn could take his roster spot.

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“The New England Patriots brought in JuJu Smith-Schuster in attempt to bolster their receiving corps last season, a move that largely failed to pan out for the slumping franchise. The 27-year-old is now a realistic cut candidate for a team that cleaned house this offseason and is ready to begin a new era under head coach Jerod Mayo and quarterback Drake Maye,” BR’s Alex Kay wrote.

Many moons ago — the 2018 season — Smith-Schuster took the NFL by storm, grabbing 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and 7 touchdowns as a second-year phenom. Thereafter, he devolved into a WR2 type, and before too long, the former Steeler began bouncing around the league to teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Patriots.

Minnesota Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media about the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft from the TCO Performance Center. The Vikings have long-term draft needs at quarterback, cornerback, and interior offensive line.

Kay continued, “While the Pats would be on the hook for a $9.6 million dead money charge in 2024 and another $2.6 million in 2025, they have a league-most $43.3 million in cap space available and may value the roster spot more than the player during a pivotal rebuilding campaign. Teams should be willing to kick the tires on Smith-Schuster if he does get cut.”

Roster cutdown day in late August will actually cause about 700 free agents to hit the open market. For wide receivers, Smith-Schuster could top the list. Some believe the Vikings are waiting until that time to determine if more WR beef is necessary.

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Kay concluded, “While it’s unlikely he’ll return to the Pro Bowl form he displayed for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his sophomore season, a healthy Smith-Schuster could still be a major asset for plenty of teams as a high-end No. 3 wideout.”

If the Vikings don’t take the plunge with Smith-Schuster but realize the aforementioned Powell or Nailor aren’t quite cut out for WR3, other players like Hunter Renfrow, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones are available at the moment on the free-agent wire.

Smith-Schuster will turn 28 in November.

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).

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