Another Hometown Talent? A Former Minnesota Gophers WR Is Available if the Vikings Want Him

Former Minnesota Gophers WR
Aug 29, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson (6) catches a pass in the first half against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Minnesota Vikings added a couple local products by signing both OL Sam Schlueter out of the University of Minnesota and FB Zach Ojile of the University of Minnesota-Duluth to their roster for the summer. The move came following the weekend’s rookie minicamp where the duo came in as tryout invitees.

If the Vikings want to continue this trend of adding hometown talent, there is another former Minnesota Gophers WR that is back on the open market after the Las Vegas Raiders released Tyler Johnson this week.

Nov 9, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson (6) catches a one handed touchdown pass over Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Keaton Ellis (2) in the first half at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson was a legendary player in the Gophers program when he played there for four seasons from 2016-19. In all, he recorded 213 receptions, 3305 yards, and 33 TDs for Minnesota in 43 games. He was also a first-team Big 10 member in both 2018 and 2019.

Following that 2019 season, Johnson was a fifth-round pick in the 2020 Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and a number of Vikings fans clamored for Minnesota to pursue him.

In his first two NFL seasons, Johnson played a relatively large role for Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, appearing in 31 games and making six starts. During those games, he recorded 48 receptions for 529 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also added seven receptions for 76 yards across six playoff games.

However, the Buccaneers waived Johnson prior to the start of the 2022 season, and he ultimately landed with the Houston Texans for about two months before being waived again and landing back in Tampa Bay.

Following the conclusion of the season, Johnson was signed by the Raiders, but in order to free up space for Kristian Wilkerson, they waived him again. Now, for the fourth time in about nine months, he is a free agent once again.

Minnesota Gophers WR
Nov 16, 2019; Iowa City, IA, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach P. J. Fleck talks with wide receiver Tyler Johnson (6) after a penalty during the third quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

As aforementioned, the Vikings certainly have been no strangers to bringing Minnesota products into the franchise, particularly recently. They also have an open roster spot following the Za’Darius Smith trade.

However, a move at wide receiver could be tough to swing, especially with how many players are currently on the roster. Here’s a look at Minnesota’s WR depth chart right now:

  • WR1: Justin Jefferson
  • WR2: Jordan Addison
  • WR3: K.J. Osborn
  • WR4: Jalen Nailor
  • WR5: Jalen Reagor
  • WR6: Brandon Powell
  • WR7: Blake Proehl
  • WR8: Trishton Jackson
  • WR9: Cephus Johnson
  • WR10: Malik Knowles
  • WR11: Thayer Thomas

Johnson will turn 25 years of age this August.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.