Vikings Sign XFL WR, Waive OLB Kenny Willekes

Vikings Sign XFL WR, Waive LB Kenny Willekes
Sep 14, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Lucky Jackson (11) drops a touchdown pass in front of coverage from Louisville Cardinals defensive back Russ Yeast (3) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This spring, the XFL was back once again, giving football players a chance to prove themselves on that stage before potentially moving to NFL rosters this fall. Apparently, the Minnesota Vikings liked what they saw in XFL WR Lucky Jackson because on Tuesday, they announced that they had signed him for the 2023 season. In order to free up space, they also waived OLB Kenny Willekes, a seventh-round pick in the 2020 Draft.

Willekes played in six games for the Vikings during the 2021 season, recording 2.5 sacks in those games. However, injuries derailed both his 2020 and 2022 seasons, so he has not been able to get much practice time with the team in that time, let alone playing time in actual games.

Kenny Willekes
Nov 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Kenny Willekes (79) during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As for Jackson, he spent the 2023 XFL season with the DC Defenders, who made a run all the way to the Championship Game before falling to the Arlington Renegades by a score of 35-26. It was a major upset considering the Defenders went 9-1 in the regular season while the Renegades were only 4-6 going into the playoffs before winning the South Division Championship and the XFL Championship.

In 10 regular season games for the Defenders, Jackson caught 36 passes for 572 yards and 5 TDs. Prior to his XFL career, Jackson had spent the 2021 season in The Spring League, playing for the Blues, and in 2022, he was a member of the Edmonton Elks in the CFL.

Sep 2, 2017; Bowling Green, KY, United States; WKU Hilltoppers wide receiver Lucky Jackson (11) makes a catch for a touchdown during the game between Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky at Houchens-Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson spent his collegiate years at Western Kentucky where he played from 2016-19 after redshirting his 2015 season. In total, he appeared in 50 games for the Hilltoppers, including 36 starts. He put together 209 receptions, 2680 yards, and 13 TDs over those 50 games.

His 94 receptions in 2019 led Conference USA players, and his 1133 receiving yards was second in the conference as well, trailing only Quez Watkins, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2020 Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sep 17, 2016; Oxford, OH, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers running back Quinton Baker (3) celebrates scoring a touchdown with wide receiver Lucky Jackson (11) against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks in the first half at Fred Yager Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Now, Jackson joins a Vikings receiver room that is already extremely deep, and he becomes the 12th player in the group. Here is an updated look at all the Vikings receivers now on their roster following this signing:

  • WR1: Justin Jefferson
  • WR2: Jordan Addison
  • WR3: K.J. Osborn
  • WR4: Jalen Nailor
  • WR5: Jalen Reagor
  • WR6: Trishton Jackson
  • WR7: Blake Proehl
  • WR8: Brandon Powell
  • WR9: Cephus Johnson
  • WR10: Malik Knowles
  • WR11: Thayer Thomas
  • WR12: Lucky Jackson

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.