Reinforcements Reportedly Not Imminent for Vikings’ Vacancy

Drops One Hint
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The Minnesota Vikings have filled most job openings in the offseason by signing or drafting replacements for departed players, most notably the additions of quarterback Sam Darnold and pass-rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the two spots again in the draft by selecting passer J.J. McCarthy and defender Dallas Turner in the first round.

Reinforcements Reportedly Not Imminent for Vikings’ Vacancy

Reinforcements Reportedly Not Imminent for Vikings Vacancy
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The two spots that have remained untouched on the surface are left guard and wide receiver. No prominent players have been acquired. Minnesota’s decision-makers have put a lot of faith into returning backup guard Blake Brandel.

At the receiver position behind standout pass-catchers Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, the organization watched longtime WR3 K.J. Osborn walk in free agency. He has since signed with the New England Patriots and will catch passes from Jacoby Brissett or Drake Maye.

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Minnesota, meanwhile, has not added any well-known wideouts. The one acquisition was Trent Sherfield, a career journeyman. Of his last five campaigns, only one eclipsed 100 receiving yards. ESPN’s Vikings beat writer Kevin Seifert envisions an internal solution rather than any outside signings.

They stepped only modestly into the free agent market, signing journeyman Trent Sherfield to a deal that fully guaranteed him $1 million. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell recently suggested the Vikings sign free agent slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, but at the outset of OTAs, there are indications they want to gauge the progress of their internal depth.

Kevin Seifert

Hunter Renfrow could step into the vacated slot receiver position that Osborn has primarily played in the recent three seasons. Most other productive WRs have found new homes in the last few weeks, but the excellent route runner is still on the open market.

However, the leadership apparently prefers the guys already in the building. Sherfield logged over 400 yards in 2022 with the Dolphins but hasn’t stayed with a team for more than one season since his stint with the Cardinals from 2018 to 2020.

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Brandon Powell was last year’s punt returner and turned out to be a reliable target, with Jefferson missing time because of his hamstring injury. Seifert expects him to have increased snaps in his second season with the Vikings.

At the top of that list is veteran Brandon Powell, who built significant credibility last season during the most extensive playing time of his career. A converted running back, Powell caught 29 passes for 324 yards, including a winning touchdown in Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons. He re-signed on a one-year deal that guaranteed him $625,000.

Kevin Seifert

Without Jefferson, the QB carousel needed another receiver to step up behind Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson, and that guy was Powell. He made a couple of plays in every game and became a go-to guy in the magical Joshua Dobbs run.

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Seifert also mentioned five more players who are in the mix.

Veteran N’Keal Harry remains on the roster, and the Vikings have several receivers they have been trying to develop behind the scenes for the past two years — including 2022 sixth-round pick Jalen Nailor and longtime practice squad member Trishton Jackson. O’Connell has also mentioned the progress of two players who were with the team last season in various capacities: Thayer Thomas (2023 practice squad) and Malik Knowles (2023 injured reserve).

Kevin Seifert

Harry has been with the team since last offseason but hasn’t made much of an impact. Late-bloomers certainly exist, though Harry hasn’t shown any flashes that would suggest that’s feasible.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (83) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Jalen Nailor, the 2022 draft choice, is a viable option to seize the growing opportunity. He had a promising rookie season but was buried on the depth chart. In 2023, he was a popular breakout candidate, but injuries prevented him from having much impact as a sophomore.

Thayer Thomas and Malik Knowles, the undrafted rookies from a year ago, as well as practice squad veteran Trishton Jackson, fight for roster spots, but claiming the WR3 job would come as a surprise. Also deserving of a mention are rookies Ty James, Devron Harper, and Jeshaun Jones.

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