Vikings Say Goodbye to Wideout

Jackson State wide receiver Daylen Baldwin (6) is out of bounds near the end zone on the final play of the half as Alabama State defensive back Irshaad Davis (6) defends in first half action at Hornet Stadium on the ASU campus in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday March 20, 2021. © Mickey Welsh / Advertiser via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The Minnesota Vikings have a history of excellent wide receivers. In the last 30 years alone, there have been Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss, as well as Jake Reed and Percy Harvin. In the last decade, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs formed a top duo in the NFL until Justin Jefferson replaced the latter. He and Jordan Addison are the current top guys in the receiver room.

Vikings Say Goodbye to Wideout

That WR room lost one significant component when K.J. Osborn left in free agency. The 2020 fifth-rounder was the team’s third receiver for three years, complementing Jefferson by winning primarily in the slot. Minnesota hasn’t acquired any clear successor to replace him.

Vikings Say Goodbye to Wideout
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The latest move, however, wasn’t an attempt to replace him, as the organization parted ways with depth receiver Daylen Baldwin, the team announced earlier this week.

Baldwin went undrafted in 2022 after playing college football at Morgan State, Jackson State, and Michigan. As a grad transfer, Baldwin caught passes from new Vikings quarterback J.J. McCarthy in 2021, including a 69-yard score in the season opener. It was the passer’s first touchdown in his college career. Their reunion would’ve been a remarkable story.

A slow 40-yard dash didn’t help his stock coming out of Michigan. As a UDFA, though, Cleveland signed the wideout, and he spent his entire rookie season on the Browns practice squad before he was waived during his second training camp.

Michigan wide receiver Daylen Baldwin (85) runs for a touchdown against Western Michigan during the second half on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. © Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

After waiting for another chance on the waiver wire, the Vikings added him to their roster for three weeks in November last year when multiple receivers were hurt. He was released in December and re-signed in January. At age 24, he is now looking for another team to give him a chance.

Baldwin was unlikely to make the team in the first place, but this is early confirmation. He will not even get the opportunity to compete in rookie minicamp and the OTAs, let alone training camp in August.

His involuntary departure leaves the Vikings with one less body in the receiving room but plenty of guys to compete in the next few months for roster spots and roles on offense. The purple team currently employs 13 wide receivers.

  • Justin Jefferson
  • Jordan Addison
  • Brandon Powell
  • Jalen Nailor
  • Trent Sherfield
  • Lucky Jackson
  • N’Keal Harry
  • Trishton Jackson
  • Malik Knowles
  • Thayer Thomas
  • Ty James
  • Devron Harper
  • Jeshaun Jones
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Jefferson and Addison are the leaders at that position. They can compete with any duo in the league, especially if last year’s first-rounder can continue to impress and even take another step in his sophomore campaign.

Brandon Powell is the team’s punt returner and has produced when the Vikings needed someone to shine during Jefferson’s absence. His role might increase after Osborn’s departure. Trent Sherfield signed in free agency. He has been a journeyman but primarily a special teams player and depth receiver. His best season came in 2022 when he eclipsed 400 yards with the Dolphins.

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Jalen Nailor showed enormous promise in his debut season. His breakout performance against the Packers in a blowout loss turned some heads. Most expected more opportunities in his second season, but injuries limited him to three receptions. Staying healthy is vital to emerge as a weapon in his third year.

Another guy with a chance to make some noise is undrafted rookie Ty James. He produced more than 1,000 yards at Mercer last season, and his deep-threat ability could give the Vikings another element. His teammate at Mercer, Devron Harper, is a gadget player whose skills after the catch might be intriguing.

The Vikings could still grab a player from the open market to improve the group, but one thing is certain. The competition in training camp for the spots behind the established stars will be fun to watch.

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