Pre-Free Agency Vikings Roster Evaluation: The WR Room Is Loaded at the Top, but More Depth is Necessary

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency across the NFL officially gets started on Wednesday, March 13th.

Over the 11 days before free agency, we’ll be taking a bit of a deep dive into the Vikings roster to evaluate where each position group stands before the team can officially begin signing players on the open market. These evaluations will be broken up into the following topics:

  • Quarterbacks
  • Running Backs
  • Wide Receivers
  • Tight Ends
  • Offensive Line
  • Defensive Line
  • Edge Rushers
  • Linebackers
  • Cornerbacks
  • Safeties
  • Special Teams

Today, we’ll continue the series by going over the Vikings WR room, which, while loaded at the top, could use a few more depth pieces in 2024.

The Current Vikings Wide Receivers

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the main storyline at the Vikings wide receiver position revolves around Justin Jefferson. The star has put together a historic start to his career, re-writing record books in every season that he’s played.

Despite missing seven games in 2023, Jefferson became the fifth player in NFL history to record 1000+ yards in each of their first four seasons, joining Randy Moss (1998-2001), A.J. Green (2011-14), Mike Evans (2014-17), and Michael Thomas (2016-19).

Joining Jefferson at the top of the depth chart is Jordan Addison, who was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Addison burst onto the scene early in the year, recording 36 receptions for 482 yards and seven touchdowns over the first eight games of the season.

Addison’s receptions and yardage totals remained relatively consistent over the final nine games, catching 34 passes for 429 yards, but he had just three touchdowns over those games. Hopefully, with a healthy Jefferson back in the lineup, that number can be a bit more consistent over a full 17-game slate. Still, though, double-digit TDs for a rookie receiver is nothing to scoff at.

After the young studs at the top, Minnesota has a bunch of unproven players further down the depth chart. Jalen Nailor seems most likely to emerge from the pack if anybody is going to grab hold of the WR3 role from the current roster. During his rookie season in 2022, Nailor caught nine passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. However, 2023 was filled with injury struggles for the young receiver, and he was limited to just 94 snaps with the offense, catching three passes for 29 yards.

Behind Nailor, the Vikings also employ Trishton Jackson, N’Keal Harry, Malik Knowles, Daylen Baldwin, Thayer Thomas, and Lucky Jackson. Harry, Jackson (Trishton), and Baldwin are the only players amongst that group to record receptions at the NFL level.

Pending Free Agents

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) carries the ball for an incomplete touchdown during the first half of the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have two players set to hit free agency this offseason in K.J. Osborn and Brandon Powell. These two players were the main pass catchers for the Vikings at the position last season behind Addison and Jefferson.

Osborn, a fifth-round pick in 2020, has been a steady WR3 for Minnesota over the past three seasons and recorded a solid season of 48 receptions, 540 yards, and three touchdowns in 2023. However, these numbers are all a step backwards from where he was at in 2022.

Meanwhile, Powell served as the WR4 this past season after signing with the team last spring, recording career-highs in receptions (29) and receiving yards (324) as well as a touchdown. His main role came as the punt returner, though, as Powell led the league with 37 punt returns which went for 289 yards. If Powell were to leave, the Vikings would also need to find a new punt returner for the upcoming season.

Potential Free Agency Targets

Vikings Roster
Detroit Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds makes a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a touchdown during the first half of the NFC divisional round playoff game at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024.

Ultimately, if the Vikings want to keep a veteran receiver on their roster, it may make more sense to re-sign Osborn and/or Powell rather than target a free agent. Still, there are a couple intriguing players set to hit the open market at the position this offseason.

One such player is Josh Reynolds, who is coming off a strong 2023 season with the Detroit Lions. He recorded 40 receptions for 608 yards and tied a career-high with five touchdowns. He’s a versatile player, capable of contributing from either the slot or the boundary, meaning Minnesota can mix up their looks at the position if they bring in Reynolds. Per PFF, Reynolds played 34.9% of his snaps in the slot and 65.1% on the outside.

Additionally, Reynolds has a past history with head coach Kevin O’Connell. The receiver began his NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams, and O’Connell was his offensive coordinator during the 2020 season. During that year, Reynolds put together a career-high 52 receptions for 618 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Look for the Vikings to Take a WR in Day 3 of the Draft

Dec 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights wide receiver Javon Baker (1) celebrates his touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half of the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s draft class is once again loaded at the wide receiver position. As a result, players could fly off the board early in the draft at the position, but there still should be plenty of talent available when the third day roles around.

If the Vikings are going to look for another contributor this offseason, that third day might make the most sense as a spot to do so in order to find talent while also limiting overall cost. Names that could be on the table for Minnesota include the following:

  • Javon Baker (UCF)
  • Jacob Cowing (Arizona)
  • Malik Washington (Virginia)

On the surface, Baker might make the most sense out of this group. After spending his first two collegiate seasons as a depth player for Alabama, he transferred to UCF and recorded 50+ receptions and 5+ receiving touchdowns in each of the past two years for the Knights.

Baker spends the majority of his time as a boundary receiver, which would allow Addison to focus on playing in the slot, a spot where he dominated throughout his collegiate career. In 2021, his final year at Pittsburgh before transferring to USC, Addison recorded 991 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns out of the slot, per PFF.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Referenceand Sports Reference CFB.

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.