Vikings Sign a Young Receiver with Size

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
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Take a step back and assess Minnesota’s receiver room as a whole: there is a distinct lack of size. Yes, Justin Jefferson has some good length, but he isn’t a bruiser in the same manner as someone like D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, or Mike Evans.

Bringing in a young receiver with muscle thus makes quite a bit of sense.

Per Tom Pelissero of The NFL Network, the Vikings have brought a familiar face back into the fold. Take a look at the word: “The #Vikings are signing WR Daylen Baldwin to a futures contract, per his agent James Peterson.” The deal is a reunion since Baldwin briefly worked with Minnesota during the regular season, so there has been some relatively longstanding interest in the pass catcher’s upside.

Vikings Sign a Young Receiver with Size

The first thing one may notice about Daylen Baldwin is the size. No coach, no matter how brilliant, can teach height. Either you’ve got 6’2″ or you don’t. Baldwin has it.

And at 212 pounds, he has some excellent size overall.

Currently, Minnesota has Jefferson (6’1″, 195), Jordan Addison (5’11”, 175), and Jalen Nailor (6’0″, 190) as the top trio. Brandon Powell looks like a good bet to return, but he’s nicknamed Mighty Mouse for a reason: he stands at 5’8″ and weighs 181 pounds. Of course, N’Keal Harry (6’4″, 225) was brought back in the initial round of signings, so he’s someone to monitor.

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver N Keal Harry (85) catches a pass over Seattle Seahawks cornerback Chris Steele (29) during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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

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 (his original deal would be terminated and replaced with a practice squad deal).

Prior to the NFL, Daylen Baldwin played football for Michigan. He picked up 17 receptions for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2021. So, not extravagant numbers but some reason to perk up. The 15.1 yards-per-reception average is intriguing, especially when partnered with his length.

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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

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.

The first deal from Minnesota arrived on November 22, 2023. By December 12th, the Vikings had decided it was time to move on. Mr. Baldwin’s initial time with the Vikings was modest, but the simple fact that they’ve circled back around points to an ongoing belief in his potential.

At the very least, Baldwin is going to have a shot to impress the powerful people in Eagan.

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

Lately, there has been some consternation about where Minnesota finds itself. The NFC North (Packers & Lions) is doing excellently in the playoffs as the Vikings watch from the couch. Meanwhile, the Bears — a team that finished with an identical 7-10 record — sits on the draft’s 1st and 9th picks while also having more than $36.4 million in effective cap space.

Signing Daylen Baldwin isn’t going to propel the Vikings toward the front of the division. However, the Vikings know that they’re working within a “big offseason.” All of their decisions will need to coalesce in a manner that allows them to outpace the rapidly improving competition that’s swirling around them.

Vikings Trade Down from No. 87
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Daylen Baldwin’s job will be to exceed expectations by becoming an excellent special teams contributor. Doing so could result in a roster spot and further opportunity to show that he can complement the O’Connell offense.

Minnesota is sitting on roughly $25.9 million in cap space.

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.