Vikings Should Snatch Rival Free Agent for Job Opening

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If Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wants it to happen, it could be a tumultuous offseason for the Minnesota Vikings. With Kirk Cousins approaching free agency after six years under contract in Minnesota, the GM could initiate a new era by selecting his successor in the draft. Also possible is the departure of pass rusher Danielle Hunter. But those two guys aren’t the only in-house free agents.

Vikings Should Snatch Rival Free Agent for WR3 Opening

Vikings Should Snatch Rival Free Agent for WR3 Opening
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Left guard Dalton Risner, linebacker Jordan Hicks, and receiver K.J. Osborn are three significant names who are also scheduled to leave in March. Adofo-Mensah must either re-sign them, find a replacement on the roster, or acquire one via free agency or the draft.

Risner might be expensive, but his solid performance could be reason enough to pay the price. Hicks is an aging player but offers leadership, and he played well in 2023. However, the Vikings also employ Brian Asamoah and Ivan Pace, so his return might not be imminent.

Osborn’s fate is also interesting. The Vikings feature a pass-heavy offense, so they need receivers to throw the ball to. Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison could be one of the elite duos in the league for years to come, and T.J. Hockenson is a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end, making it a dynamic trio.

Uplifts Weird
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But good passing attacks have a decent third wide receiver. The Vikings should let Osborn walk and sign Detroit Lions receiver Josh Reynolds.

Osborn joined the Vikings in 2020, the same draft as Jefferson. In his debut season, the University of Miami product was exclusively a special teams player before he emerged in 2021, claiming the vacant WR3 role next to JJ and Adam Thielen. His production remained steady as he collected 655 and 650 yards in 2021 and 2022.

That number dipped to 540 in 2023. He missed a game, but his production should’ve increased regardless, considering Jefferson’s lengthy absence. According to PFF, Osborn had the 7th-most drops in the league, only trailing high-volume catchers and a couple of rookies. His drop percentage was the highest in the NFL among WRs with at least 70 targets. Inconsistency and mistakes were too much to earn him a return for a fifth season.

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Brandon Powell was a more reliable receiver last season and will likely still be cheaper. He should undoubtedly be re-signed. However, he is best suited to be a fourth wideout, someone who can make a couple of plays per game (more if someone is injured), but the third option needs to have a better track record — like the aforementioned Reynolds.

Reynolds played in Detroit in the last two-and-a-half seasons, catching passes from QB Jared Goff. And guess what? The duo also connected in Los Angeles when both played for the Rams for a few years until 2020. In that 2020 season, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was their offensive coordinator. Knowing a player is always good when trying to sign him in free agency.

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In 2021, Reynolds signed with the Titans, who waived him halfway through the season. He then joined Goff in Detroit and recorded 1,393 receiving yards and ten touchdowns in 38 games.

Comparing Osborn and Reynolds is easy because they had almost identical target numbers, and each wideout made 48 catches in 2023 (including Reynolds’ postseason).

Reynolds tabulated 200 more yards and three extra touchdowns. Both played almost the same number of snaps in the slot (roughly a third), but Reynolds gained more yards after the catch despite catching his passes deeper on average. While most remember his crucial drops in the NFC Championship Game, Reynolds had fewer drops over the season, those two included.

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It’s objectively fair to call Reynolds a slight upgrade. He is not a much better receiver by any means, but he can play the same role as a part-time slot receiver who can also win on the outside to form one of the best receiving corps in the NFL.

Both receivers are expected to sign contracts worth about $5 million a year, but O’Connell should call his old player and try to lure him to Minnesota after saying goodbye to Osborn.

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