The Urgent Extension Candidate Who is Flying Under the Radar for the Vikings

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Is urgent too strong? Maybe, but there does need to be a sense of importance when it comes to keeping Brandon Powell around town.

An awful lot has been said about the merits of retaining Danielle Hunter. No shortage of online debate has been devoted toward whether the Vikings should keep Kirk Cousins, Josh Dobbs, neither, or both. One could also find discussions about D.J. Wonnum, Marcus Davenport, Jordan Hicks, K.J. Osborn, Dalton Risner, and several other pending free agents on the roster.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) reacts after catching the go ahead touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Powell, it turns out, can be a bit easy to overlook.

He stands at just 5’8″ and weighs 181 pounds, so there’s a reason why he was given the nickname Mighty Mouse. No one will mistake him for Calvin Johnson, but some may mistake him for Darren Sproles. Quick and shifty, Powell is a menace to cover in space. His stop/start speed is excellent, and he’s capable of picking up yards after the catch.

What does the future hold for Mr. Powell and the Vikings?

Is Brandon Powell an Urgent Extension Candidate?

There’s a good chance K.J. Osborn doesn’t stick around beyond 2023.

Playing on the final year of his rookie contract, Osborn is going to have a tough time convincing Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to hand over some major money. Justin Jefferson should — at long last — land his major extension. Meanwhile, Jordan Addison will continue moving through his rookie deal. The presence of a pair of excellent receivers — which is to say nothing of T.J. Hockenson, who is working on a huge contract — makes Osborn’s return unlikely.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) drops a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Powell looks like an early frontrunner to fill that opening at WR3. Or, at least, he’s someone who can do so if he arrives at a new contract with the Vikings.

From a roster construction standpoint, the concern with elevating Powell to WR3 may be a lack of muscle at receiver. Jefferson has pretty good size, but he isn’t known as a bruiser like D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown. And then there’s Addison and Powell, both of whom are below-average in this regard. Keeping N’Keal Harry could help and the presence of a terrific twosome at tight end — T.J. Hockenson and Josh Oliver — certainly makes a difference. But, the size (or lack thereof) is a factor that the team’s decision makers will need to consider.

Working in Powell’s favor is that the coordinators really like him.

Offensive coordinator Wes Phillips is a fan of what Powell brings to the table (press conference link). “I do think Brandon Powell has earned the right to get some reps,” Phillips notes. The OC goes on to describe how Jefferson will demand a pile of targets but doesn’t think that means there isn’t a role for Powell.

Meanwhile, special teams coordinator Matt Daniels offered his own praise (press conference link). Daniels thinks he’s “a great decision maker” who is also “a very aggressive returner.” Being able to partner those attributes is a wonderful blend for a punt returner. Daniels thinks Powell inspires “full confidence” from his teammates.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) celebrates after a touchdown with guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

He has picked up 212 snaps in the slot and 111 out wide. The result so far has been 25 catches for 269 yards (a 10.8 yards-per-reception average). Crucially, he has turned 16 of his 25 catches into first downs. Plus, he has picked up 5 carries for 17 yards. His game-winning touchdown catch against the Falcons stands out as a high-point in his season (and for the team as a whole).

As a punt returner, Powell has been doing a nice job. His 24 returns have gone for 197 yards, an 8.2 yards-per-return average. He hasn’t been the world’s most explosive returner, but he has done a nice job overall. Things look far better in this phase of the game than they did when Jalen Reagor was the main man.

The 7 Surprises from Vikings Win over Patriots
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Reagor. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Currently, the receiver is working on a 1-year agreement that has a cap number a bit below $1.1 million. He has bounced around the NFL in his career, doing work for the Lions, Falcons, Bills, Dolpins, and Rams before arriving in Minnesota. One has to assume that he would welcome a chance to sign a multi-year deal that keeps him in a single spot and pays him a reasonably robust amount.

Would a 2-year deal coming in somewhere around $4 million in total money be sensible for both sides? One could envision a scenario where he carries a $1.5 million cap charge into 2024 before seeing the number swell to $2.5 million for 2025. That kind of deal wouldn’t break the bank for the Vikings but would represent a pretty notable raise for the special teams player and depth receiver.

Powell will turn 29 at the beginning of the 2024 season. His next chance to help the Vikings will arrive on Sunday, December 10th as he looks to topple the Raiders in Las Vegas.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, 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.