Vikings Fans Still Want One Particular Free Agent

Rick Spielman
Jun 15, 2021; in Eagen, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman looks on during drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Around $14 million – that’s the magic number as of June 16th for the Minnesota Vikings cap space. As owners of that unexpectedly splendid figure, general manager Rick Spielman has options for expanding an already formidable roster.

For followers of the organization, those possibilities are fairly apparent. Minnesota could stand to upgrade at defensive end. Danielle Hunter will be back, for sure, after this week’s news developments. But after his mammoth presence is cemented on the depth chart, no other EDGE rusher on the active roster is Pro Bowl-bound, at least not yet. The RDE gig will be split between Stephen Weatherly, D.J. Wonnum, and Patrick Jones II until a clear-cut frontrunner seizes the moment – if any of those men even do that at all. It could truly be a DE-by-committee ordeal, especially with Sheldon Richardson in town via free agency acquisition. He’s a defensive tackle whose pass-rush acumen rivals that of a defensive end.

If Spielman is interested in a more reputable EDGE rusher, Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Everson Griffen are unsigned. Any of those men would be perceived as an upgrade to Weatherly-Wonnum-Jones II. What’s more, they will command a price tag south of the aforementioned $14 million, indicating Spielman could grab two “big name” free agents.

No soul will object to additional offensive line depth. The Vikings guard play was a harrowing humdrum during 2020, so welcoming a Trai Turner, Nick Easton, or James Carpenter for depth would generate enthusiasm. After all, Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia were not exactly the paragon of offensive line play inside the pandemic season.

By a narrow margin, however, Vikings fans – once and for all – want a bonafide WR3. While onlookers of the team enjoy Chad Beebe’s little engine that could story, he may not be the cream of the crop for WR3 gallantry.

The fans want Dede Westbrook, an ex-Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver with deep ties to current WR coach Keenan McCardell. The two go back significantly, all the way to Westbrook’s rookie season. McCardell coached wide receivers in Jacksonville.

Jaguars #12, Dede Westbrook gets instructions from wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell during Tuesday morning’s minicamp session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their first day of 2019 mandatory minicamp at the practice fields by TIAA Bank Field Tuesday, June 11, 2019. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union] Fl Jax Jagsmandatoryminica 1

This was determined via unscientific poll on Twitter. 866 folks opined.

All four players encountered a favorable showing here, but Westbrook takes the cake. When healthy, Westbrook averages 572 receiving yards and three touchdowns per season – a mediocre statline for most NFL teams but one that would suffice for the Vikings, who routinely skimp at WR3.

The unsung part about Westbrook? Of course, it will be neat to have a reputable man catching passes not named Jefferson or Thielen. Yet, Westbrook’s sizzle in this scenario in dual-faceted. Should something happen injury-wise to Minnesota’s WR1 or WR2 – boom – Westbrook could fill in admirably as a WR2. It remains to be seen if Beebe, Bisi Johnson, or Smith-Marsette could handle such responsibilities.

Inking Westbrook – or any other WR3 – requires a leap of faith for the fans’ dreams. If the Vikings haven’t realized the importance of WR3 in seven years of head coach Mike Zimmer, will they randomly start now?

The best case for fruition is the McCardell-Westbrook connection.