The Vikings Have Cut a Receiver

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Jefferson needed to go to the hospital and Jalen Nailor was put in the concussion protocol. Even still, the Vikings have decided to cut a receiver.

The team’s official Twitter account sent out a short, declarative statement: “The #Vikings have released WR Daylen Baldwin from the practice squad.” On November 22nd, the Vikings officially brought the young receiver aboard. Doing so helped to provide just a bit more depth and competition, albeit on the practice squad. Less than a month later, Daylen Baldwin has been cut.

The Vikings Have Cut Daylen Baldwin

At 24, Baldwin finds himself at an age that is appealing to the competitively rebuilding Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Daylen Baldwin, right, brings down a pass against cornerback Shaun Jolly during the NFL football team’s football training camp in Berea on Wednesday. Camp8 3 8

Before venturing to Minnesota, Baldwin spent some time with the Browns. He was originally brought into the NFL as an UDFA, signing a 3-year, $2,560,000 deal in 2022 that eventually resulted in mostly residing on the practice squad last season (his original deal would be terminated and replaced with a practice squad deal).

Before getting to the NFL, Baldwin played football for Michigan (a program that’s been in the headlines recently). He picked up 17 receptions for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2021. So, not insane numbers but some reason to perk up. The 15.1 yards-per-reception average is notable, especially when partnered with his height and weight (he’s 6’2″, 212 pounds).

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah react during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

He didn’t see too many opportunities during his rookie season, but he was active for a game. In a 13-3 win over the Ravens in Week 14, Baldwin turned 2 targets into 2 catches for 25 yards. Both of those receptions ended up going for a first down.

Despite the potential, Baldwin will now be looking for work. Moving on from Baldwin opens a spot on the practice squad, so look for the Vikings to fill the slot before too long.

Lately, a lot of the focus has been on Mr. Jefferson. The Offensive Player of the Year was just getting back onto the field following his Week 5 hamstring injury that put him on the IR, so the excitement was widespread in Minnesota.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Christian Izien (29) in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

A hard hit to the ribs, though, forced Jefferson out of the Week 14 game. Even worse, he had to go to a local hospital to ensure there wasn’t a more serious injury. However, Kevin O’Connell was fairly upbeat in his Monday press conference, describing his WR1 as being day to day.

Going into the Bengals game, the Vikings will have Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, and Brandon Powell locked and loaded. That’s a solid receiver group — especially since T.J. Hockenson is still doing his thing — but re-inserting Jefferson at the very top would certainly change things. Filling in the depth at the bottom end would likely involve elevating N’Keal Harry for the game. Otherwise, Minnesota could opt for another WR option from the practice squad: Thayer Thomas, Lucky Jackson, and/or Trishton Jackson.

Kickoff between the Vikings and Bengals takes place at 12 p.m. CST on Saturday, December 16th.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, Sports Reference CFB, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.