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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings countdown to free agency: The wide receivers

By Matthew Coller

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With the Super Bowl over, the next big NFL date is March 9, when the new league year begins and free agency opens. The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be active in free agency, so as we make our way toward the start of the signing period, we will go position-by-position, analyzing which free agents the Vikings could/should be interested in. We began with the quarterbacks, then went on to the running backs, now for the wide receivers…

One more weapon?

With Cordarrelle Patterson set to hit the market and first-round pick Laquon Treadwell struggling in Year 1, the Vikings should have their sights set on adding another playmaker to join Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen (assuming Thielen, an RFA, returns), especially with Pat Shurmur and his West Coast offense taking over full time in 2017. What type of skill set will the Vikings seek? There are deep threat receivers and players who fit the short passing game. Here are some of the possibilities:

DeSean Jackson, Washington

At 30, Jackson is still one of the top deep threats at his position, with 14 catches in 2016 that traveled over 20 yards in the air, including four that cleared 40 yards. He led the NFL in Yards Per Reception and was explosive after the catch as well. While every team would like having a player of Jackson’s big-play capability, his price tag will likely be very high.

Pierre Garcon, Washington

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Possibly the most under-appreciated receiver in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked Garcon as the eighth best receiver in the league. A former D-III player, Garcon is a magnificent route runner with great hands. Washington will likely either try to keep Jackson or Garcon and allow the other to hit free agency. However, just like Jackson, the former Colts receiver will likely be too pricy for the Vikings.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

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After his first three years in the NFL, it appeared Jeffery was going to be a premier No. 1 receiver, but injuries and ineffective quarterback play in Chicago have hindered his rise to stardom. At 6-foot-3, 220-pounds, Jeffery is still a very difficult challenge for defenders. It seems unlikely that he will get top-notch receiver money with other stars on the market.

Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns

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From quarterback to wide receiver to top free agent wide receiver. It’s been an incredible journey for Terrelle Pryor, who might have had even more than 77 catches if the Cleveland Browns had a capable quarterback. He wasn’t just a product of being the only decent receiver on the team though as Pryor proved he can run routes at a high level and use size to his advantage. With the assumption that he’s still growing and could be even better next year, many teams should be interested. The price tag, however, it a bit of a mystery. Did he prove enough to get a long-term, big-money deal?

Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams

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While Britt has never quite lived up to his first-round draft status, he is coming off the best year of his career, notching his first 1,000-yard season for the first time and catching over 60% of passes thrown his way for the first time in his career despite playing with abominable quarterbacks. Britt might be an intriguing option for the Vikings, especially since he can be a valuable downfield and third down threat.

Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati Bengals

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After a really tough year in 2015, LaFell bounced back to provide the Bengals with a solid non-AJ Green option. LaFell had been plagued by drops during his final year as a Patriot, but was credited with only one drop in 2016. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Vikings were interested in having him as their No. 3 receiver, but LaFell might look to be more of a main target somewhere else.

Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins

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Any team that’s looking for a deep threat should consider Kenny Stills. Of his 42 receptions last season, 22 were on throws that traveled more than 10 yards and he caught seven of his nine touchdowns on passes thrown more than 20 yards. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota, native might be an intriguing option as last year Sam Bradford showed a capability to throw accurately down the field. Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinal reports, however, that he could be seeking five years at $30 million.

Jeremy Kerley, San Francisco 49ers

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As far as slot receivers go, Kerley might be the best on the market. His numbers aren’t staggering, but he was the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver in receptions and yards and noted that their Next Generation Stats listed him as one of the best pure slot receivers in terms of “yards of separation” from defenders. If Shurmur’s West Coast offense requires more of a pure receiver out of the slot than playmaker, as Cordarrelle Patterson is, then Kerley could be a target.

Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

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After the 2013 season, Wright was considered the next big thing, but his production has faded significantly since then, in part because of injuries. When he was in the lineup last year, he was an effective target for Marcus Mariota. At only 27, Wright might be a low-risk, high-reward type receiver.

Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys

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Over his four years in Dallas, Williams has been a reliable target for the Cowboys. He proved last year that he can be an all-around receiver rather than just a downfield threat as had been the case with Tony Romo under center. Overlooked because of the sheer star power on the Cowboys’ offense, Williams might end up being the steal of free agency.

Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills

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The former USC standout has spent four years playing with either bad quarterbacks or run-first offenses and produced decent numbers. Injuries over the past few years have held back this strong underneath receiver. Woods won’t be burning anyone deep, but he has a knack for getting open in short and intermediate routes. Signing a receiver like Woods could give the Vikings lots of flexibility to move Stefon Diggs to slot whenever needed.

Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions

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The Jaromir Jagr of the NFL, Boldin showed the world that you don’t need to be fast if you’re big and skilled. Improving red zone scoring rate should be high on the to-do list for the Vikings. A one-year deal with Boldin might do that, if he wants to keep playing at age 37.

Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers

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While Ginn is still an exciting player with the ball, he has never turned into an effective all-around receiver. It says something about the Carolina Panthers’ front office that Cam Newton was force to throw toward Ginn nearly 200 times in the last two seasons. Only at a very cheap price should the Vikings be interested.

Michael Floyd, New England Patriots

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After a DWI the Cardinals released the Minnesota native, who was technically on the Super Bowl-winning Patriots, but was inactive for the win over the Atlanta Falcons. Floyd is fast and can gain separation on throws down the field but is hardly a well-rounded player. The Vikings aren’t usually Patriots-esque in terms of willingness to take shots at high-risk players.

Other free agent receivers

Vincent Jackson, Russell Shepard, Markus Wheaton, Jordan Norwood, Percy Harvin, Eric Weems, Quinton Patton, Brandon Tate, Marquise Goodwin, Kamar Aiken, Arrelious Benn, Brian Quick, Andre Roberts, Marc Mariani, Brice Butler, Cecil Shorts, Rod Streater, Justin Hunter, Deonte Thompson, Jaron Brown, Andre Holmes, Bryan Walters, Jeremy Ross

The post Vikings countdown to free agency: The wide receivers appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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