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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Looking ahead: Vikings have numbers and uncertainty at wide receiver

By Andrew Krammer

The third of a position-by-position look at the Vikings with a focus on free agency, the draft and the 2016 season. We’ve also primed the quarterbacks and running backs.

Wide receivers

2015 playing time

Mike Wallace: 17 games, 73.2 percent

Stefon Diggs: 14 games, 65.8 percent

Jarius Wright: 17 games, 43.2 percent

Adam Thielen: 17 games, 20.2 percent

Charles Johnson: 11 games, 20 percent

Cordarrelle Patterson: 17 games, 5.6 percent

Upcoming free agents

Adam Thielen: exclusive rights free agent

Noteworthy number

• 55.4 — For much of the season, the Vikings activated six receivers and still couldn’t get much out of the passing game. Stefon Diggs is the team’s only receiver in the last two seasons to average over 50 yards per game as Teddy Bridgewater has navigated through a carousel of targets. Diggs’ 55.4 receiving yards per game are the franchise’s most since Percy Harvin in 2012. The Vikings haven’t produced a go-to downfield threat since Sidney Rice in 2009. Last spring, they traded for Mike Wallace to fill that void. Instead, Wallace jumped into a lackluster attack with a banged up offensive line and struggled to connect with a young, uneven quarterback. Another hopeful candidate for that role, Charles Johnson, fell out of favor and had a disappointing second season in Minnesota, ending with four straight inactives. Enter Diggs as their next hopeful standout.

Current 2016 salary cap, position rank

Wallace: $11.5 million, 10th

Wright: $2.6 million, 54th

Patterson: $2.3 million, 58th

Johnson: $600,000, 127th

Diggs: $581,928, 141st

Quotable

Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer on if he expects Mike Wallace to return: “Those are all things we have to determine here in the next week moving forward. I would like him back, I love the kid, I love his heart. He didn’t b—- one time about not getting the ball. He just went and worked every day and tried to get guys better. He loves it here, he loves Teddy. If it can get worked out, I’d like to have him back. But I want to do what’s best for Mike Wallace, too.”

Potential free agent market

Includes pending free agents Alshon Jeffery, Anquan Boldin, Rueben Randle, Travis Benjamin, Malcolm Floyd, Brian Quick, Jermaine Kearse, Mohamad Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andre Holmes, Rishard Matthews, Jason Avant, Ricardo Lockette, Marc Mariani, Nate Washington, Hakeem Nicks, James Jones

Draft

The Vikings have used both free agency and the draft to surround their recent franchise quarterbacks with talent. Their find of Stefon Diggs in last year’s fifth round, and the recent miss on Cordarrelle Patterson in 2013’s first round, could impact the thinking of some at Winter Park, though it’ll come down to many present factors. That includes their depth of dive into free agency and their interest in this year’s draft prospects. They could benefit from a taller option for Bridgewater, who charts a high completion percentage, but has been tentative and inaccurate downfield.

Bottom line

The Vikings face a healthy amount of uncertainty at receiver, with an opening for a No. 1-style playmaker. Diggs’ emergence suggests he could take that role during his second NFL season. Wright has been a solid slot receiver, while Thielen may re-sign as a key contributor on special teams. Outside of those three, they’re searching for answers. Wallace could be better off elsewhere should the front office elect not to honor the $11.45 million base salary he’s currently due next season, none guaranteed. Johnson’s fall from grace, combined with the promise shown in 2014, makes his situation even more unpredictable after ending the year as a healthy scratch from the game-day rosters. And the Vikings haven’t used Patterson, an unreliable route runner, as anything more than a kick returner in the last 1.5 seasons. They currently have seven receivers under contract for next season, including two on reserve deals in Isaac Fruechte and Terrell Sinkfield.

The post Looking ahead: Vikings have numbers and uncertainty at wide receiver appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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