One Former Star WR Could Make Sense for Vikings

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

Almost quietly, the Minnesota Vikings will need a WR3 this offseason from free agency or the 2024 NFL Draft.

One Former Star WR Could Make Sense for Vikings

The club employs Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison at the top of the ticket, but after those men, it’s a guessing game regarding the next WR3’s identity. Veteran K.J. Osborn is a free agent and not a slam dunk to return with the Vikings. Jalen Nailor had a golden opportunity to emerge in 2023 after Jefferson’s injury, but he mostly succumbed to injuries of his own.

Former Star WR
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And if Minnesota opts to scour free agency for Osborn’s replacement, one veteran and former star could be affordable and gettable: Michael Thomas.

No, he won’t return to his 2019 glory days. Those are kaput. Thomas will turn 31 next month, so this proposed Thomas-to-Vikings theory isn’t to resurrect his Pro Bowl seasons. Yet, as a WR3, the idea checks out.

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Foremost, these are the Vikings’ wide receivers under contract in 2024:

  • WR1: Justin Jefferson
  • WR2: Jordan Addison
  • WR3: Jalen Nailor
  • WR4: Lucky Jackson
  • WR5: Malik Knowles
  • WR6: Thayer Thomas
  • WR7: Daylen Baldwin
  • WR8: Trishton Jackson
  • WR9: N’Keal Harry

Minnesota is not hurting for bodies; it has plenty of pass-catchers on the books. But Thomas would be an instant upgrade over Nailor, assuming he could remain healthy.

Injuries have beset Thomas’ career since becoming a household name in NFL homes five years ago. In 2019, he captured 149 passes for 1,725 yards and 9 touchdowns — also known as one of the greatest WR seasons of all time. Thereafter, his top season was 2023, where he tabulated 448 yards before his season was cut short by injury versus the Vikings in Week 10.

Drops One Hint
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The veteran receiver said on social media this week that he could’ve achieved 1,000 yards if not for an errant pass thrown by Derek Carr against Minnesota, “Well if I didn’t get set up by a bad ball I probably would’ve had a light little 1k yards this year but could of should of I know I get it lol.”

Thomas isn’t overly fast or dynamic anymore but will be somewhat affordable. His next contract should fetch between $7-$9 million annually, a sum Minnesota could afford in an offseason with its most available salary cap dollars in years.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

Otherwise, if the Vikings are not interested in Thomas, other WR3 types can be grabbed from free agency. Kendrick Bourne, Noah Brown, Darnell Mooney, Curtis Samuel, and Rashid Shaheed are notable examples.

NFL free agency kicks off on March 11 with the “legal tampering” period.


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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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