4 Realistic Outside Options for Vikings’ WR3 Job

Dec 3, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Robert Woods (2) is introduced before playing against the Denver Broncos at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings employ Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison – one of the best wide receiver duos in the entire league. They are under contract for five and four more seasons, respectively, so the team is set at the two starting spots. Behind them, however, there is a vacancy following K.J. Osborn’s departure in free agency.

4 Realistic Outside Options for Vikings’ WR3 Job

4 Realistic Outside Options for Vikings' WR3 Job
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Osborn joined New England after producing more than 500 receiving yards in three straight seasons. While his per-game consistency was up and down, his per-season numbers stayed consistent, and the Vikings will miss their slot receiver. To replace him, the two main candidates are Jalen Nailor and Brandon Powell. The former has an extensive injury history, and Powell is a punt returner who might be better suited for the WR4 role.

An outside acquisition could help Jefferson and Addison. Here are four realistic candidates.

1. Robert Woods

Houston Texans wide receiver Robert Woods (2) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas., Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023.

Robert Woods is an old friend of head coach Kevin O’Connell. When he coordinated the offense on Sean McVay’s Rams, Woods was Cooper Kupp’s wingman. Now 32 years old, the veteran is stuck on a remarkable depth chart in Houston behind last year’s standouts Nico Collins and Tank Dell, the trade acquisition Stefon Diggs, and Noah Brown. The team will also attempt to insert former second-rounder John Metchie into their offensive plans.

Woods is past his prime, but he won’t have much of a role in Houston and would be a wonderful solution for Minnesota’s problem. He caught 40 passes for 426 yards last season and has always been a solid technician in the slot.

Alternatively, a similar odd-man-out case could be made for Brown or Metchie. Regardless, the Vikings should call the Texans and ask for the trade prices.

2. Hunter Renfrow

Oct 23, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Another slot receiver, Hunter Renfrow, is the only free agent on the list. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in 2021, and everyone expected him to produce at a high level when Josh McDaniels took over as the new head coach after elevating the play of slot receivers in New England for years.

His last two seasons have been underwhelming, as he only caught 61 passes for 585 yards in those campaigns. The low investment and the hope that he can return to form are the two reasons why a signing is intriguing. Compared to the other players, the team could save draft capital by avoiding a trade. His profile as a slot receiver who can win in the middle of the field is a nice fit for outside demons Jefferson and Addison.

3. Treylon Burks

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) prepares for a drill during a joint practice with the Minnesota Vikings in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

Treylon Burks was a highly-touted receiver in the 2022 draft, so much so that the Titans decided to trade away A.J. Brown to the Eagles to use the draft pick they got in return for him. Burks has shown flashes but has been too inconsistent. The Titans have added DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley, and Tyler Boyd over the last 16 months, so his role is slowly diminishing.

Injuries have slowed him down, but he could still be a low-risk bet for the Vikings. If they can find his first-round talent, it would be a big win. His size (6’2″ and 225 lbs) would be unique in Minnesota’s receiver room. Through two seasons and 22 contests, Burks has produced 49 catches for 665 yards and one touchdown.

4. Darius Slayton

New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton (86) rushes in the first half against the Washington Football Team at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in East Rutherford. © Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

From the young gun, we pivot to veteran Darius Slayton. He has spent his entire career with the New York Giants, but the franchise has spent major draft capital at the position. First-rounder Malik Nabers is envisioned to be the new top guy, supported by 2022 second-rounder Wan’Dale Robinson and last year’s third-rounder Jalin Hyatt.

Slayton would be a premier WR3 in the league after registering roughly 1,500 yards over the last two years and between 724 and 770 yards in four of his five professional seasons. So why don’t the Giants just keep him? He is in the final year of his contract, costing the organization a cap hit of $7.95 million in 2024. A trade would transfer $6.2 million of cap hit to Minnesota’s cap table.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap and Pro Football Reference helped with this article.

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 prefers Classic rock over other genres. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt