Vikings Should Re-Sign Unsung Free Agent after Late-Season Surge

Minnesota Vikings tight end Johnny Mundt (86) scores a touchdown on a six-yard reception while being covered by Green Bay Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon (25) during the fourth quarter of their game Sunday, December 31, 2023 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings 33-10.

Injuries are a massive reason why the Vikings failed to reach the postseason and instead focus on the draft and start the offseason roster moves. Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles, leading to a QB carousel with a bunch of backups trying to guide the Vikings to wins, sometimes even without Justin Jefferson, and in the final two weeks without tight end T.J. Hockenson.

Vikings Should Re-Sign Unsung Free Agent after Late-Season Surge

But those injuries gave backups chances. Some of them took advantage of their extra responsibility. Others didn’t.

Vikings Should Re-Sign Unsung Free Agent After Late-Season Surge
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

One man who did is tight end Johnny Mundt, who had to play a significant role in the season’s final three games after Hockenson’s exit with a brutal knee injury.

Vikings fans wondered if Josh Oliver, a costly free agent signing, would take over the top role in the tight end group and emerge as a receiving threat. But head coach Kevin O’Connell teased another tight end, a forgotten one since Hockenson and Oliver played the majority of snaps this year:

They are both going to take on bigger roles. I think you’ll see Johnny (Mundt) a little more on some of those third downs. You guys have heard me talk about Johnny Mundt in the past and why we wanted to have him here and just his role and value is he’s really a jack of all trades kinda guy and he’s always taking reps right behind T.J. (Hockenson) when it’s critical pass game and he’s always ready to step in the way he did last week against Detroit.

Kevin O’Connell
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

KOC didn’t just mention Mundt to throw opponents off. He mentioned him because he was serious. Mundt caught nine passes in the final two games for 97 yards, nearly doubling his season numbers in those two contests. Throughout the year, Mundt played in all 17 games and logged 17 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown. He played 223 snaps on offense, roughly 20% of the snaps.

With Hockenson’s status in question for the beginning of the season and Oliver having his strengths in the rushing game, it would be foolish to let Mundt walk out of the building in March, as he is in the final year of his two-season contract with the Vikings.

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

He has shown that he can be a reliable player in the passing game as an outlet for the quarterback. There is no need to sign another player when Oliver and Mundt can get the job done for a few games. Mundt would also be a cheap player to re-sign, as he probably commands the veteran minimum.

O’Connell has made it known how much he likes Mundt since signing him in 2022. The two worked together in Los Angeles when KOC was the offensive coordinator of the Rams, and he helped him secure career numbers last season.

In 81 career games, Mundt has caught 46 passes for 405 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, 312 yards and 36 receptions came in his 34 contests with the Vikings.

Mundt is 29 years old, and the Vikes should keep the veteran when March rolls around.

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