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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings’ approach to free agency could reveal belief in Laquon Treadwell

By Matthew Coller

Calling Laquon Treadwell’s rookie season a struggle would be a pretty severe understatement. But whether he turns out to be a quality NFL player is far from decided. Whether the Minnesota Vikings believe that he will be a difference maker is likely to be revealed by their offseason actions.

After the release of guard Brandon Fusco and Mike Harris on Friday, the Vikings have around $23 million in cap space. Letting Adrian Peterson walk would give them near $40 million to work with this offseason. Clearly the priority will be offensive line, but there is also a good chance they either bring Cordarrelle Patterson back into the mix or add another receiver.

A return by Patterson might hint that there is at least some optimism surrounding Treadwell since they are two very different types of receiver – or at least what Treadwell is believed to be as a receiver. Playmaking is Patterson’s game, while the 2016 first-rounder projects as a red zone threat and solid intermediate route runner.

Bringing in a similar receiver to what Treadwell was expected to be might point us toward the Vikings believing that their 23rd overall selection in last year’s draft is no more than a long shot to make an impact in 2017 and beyond.

Near the end of the season, head coach Mike Zimmer said he has not given up on Treadwell, who finished his rookie campaign with just one catch.

“He is very quick in and out of his breaks, he has good acceleration, he’s a good stop and start guy, I think he’s going to be a good player,” Zimmer said.

But actions will speak louder than words. An investment in a player like Kenny Britt or Terrance Williams – both similarly sized receivers – would put Treadwell on the outside looking in.

Put it this way: If the Vikings want to fill the role, they will have the space and there will be players available who fit the bill.

If Zimmer’s words are truth rather than just hope or encouragement, then we might not see much done with the receiving corps other than a late-round draft pick or replacement-level free agent.

Treadwell said that he was starting to feel like a part of the team after getting his first catch, but then suffered a special teams injury against Jacksonville that ended his season.

“I was feeling more comfortable, and they was ready to put me out there, but I just went down on special teams,” Treadwell said. “That’s a tough break for me, but you’ve got to get healthy and come back ready.”

At least one dynamic will be different in 2017: Treadwell will have a different position coach. Wide receivers coach George Stewart took a job coaching special teams with the San Diego Chargers. It was never specified whether Stewart and Treadwell were on the same page or not, but a comment by Zimmer after the Ole Miss product’s first catch hinted that the head coach wanted to see him more before Norv Turner resigned.

Young receivers and Turner weren’t always a mix. Under the Vikings’ old offensive coordinator, Patterson was essentially eliminated from the offense, only to be brought back after Pat Shurmur – the current OC – was hired.

Treadwell’s shortcomings may have been the culmination of things – Injuries, inexperience, adjusting to an NFL offense etc. – but whether he showed any indication behind the scenes is known only to the team. But we will have a pretty good idea of what they think of their young receiver by which moves they make – or don’t make.

The post Vikings’ approach to free agency could reveal belief in Laquon Treadwell appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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