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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Vikings might end up missing Jarius Wright

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings will have $2.1 million on their salary cap this year that belongs to Jarius Wright.

By releasing him last week, the Vikings saved $2.6 million, pushing Minnesota’s suddenly-tight cap to around $20 million in free space.

If you only looked at Wright’s totals over the last two years, it would make sense that the Vikings decided to move on. In 2016, he caught 11 passes for 67 yards and then made 18 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns last season. A closer look at Wright’s efficiency reveals that he was not only played a valuable role in 2017, but also could have increased his playing time and further helped the team next year – even if he was taking up more than an ideal amount of cap space.

Over the past four seasons, Vikings quarterbacks have completed 105 of 151 passes in Wright’s direction (69.5 percent completion percentage) with five touchdowns, two interceptions and 8.6 yards per attempt, which is good for a 101.3 rating. Of his 105 grabs, 68 turned into first downs.

Despite his drop in production, Wright still came through in big situations. He made six catches for 107 yards in the playoffs and 13 of his 18 receptions this year came on third down.

“Whenever he gets the opportunity to go in, he knows all the receiver positions if he needs to be,” head coach Mike Zimmer said in December. “He’s just a guy that loves to go out there and get a chance to play and when he does, he usually makes a play.”

Here are Wright’s career Pro Football Focus grades

Only days after he was let go by the Vikings, Wright signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers.

“I wasn’t too worried about it because I have full belief in my talent and full belief in what I can do as a player,” Wright said during a conference call with Charlotte reporters. “So I knew all I needed was the opportunity to prove myself. I knew I would be playing somewhere. I didn’t know where.”

Carolina might be a better place for Wright to have his talents utilized. He joins former Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner. In 2014 he grabbed a career-high 42 passes and notched 34 receptions in 2015.

“Knowing all the experience that Norv has in this league, he’s been able to get it done as offensive coordinator pretty much anywhere he’s gone,” Wright said. “He has a lot of different routes and a lot of different ways that you receive the ball. Some reverses, some screens, also some down-the-field things.”

Wright’s exit leaves a hole in the Vikings’ receiving corps. Certainly Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs dominated last season and aren’t expected to slow down any time soon, but the No. 3 options are hardly as proven as Wright. Case Keenum had a 49.7 rating when throwing the ball in Laquon Treadwell’s direction in 2017. Zimmer did not have glowing things to say about Treadwell at the Combine.

“Laquon needs to get out of his own way,” Zimmer said. “He’s a guy that works extremely hard, probably doesn’t do things the right way all of the time. We’ll be in training camp and he’ll run the stadium steps at night, which is not helping him for practice the next day. He thinks he’s trying to get better, trying to get better, he’s just going about it the wrong way. So he needs to get out of his own way.”

Last year’s seventh-round draft pick Stacy Coley showed in preseason that he has the potential to win a job, but he did not register a single catch in Year 1.

Wright isn’t irreplaceable. The Vikings could pursue remaining free agents like Terrelle Pryor, Kendall Wright, Jeremy Maclin or Jordan Matthews. They might also consider drafting a receiver in the middle rounds.

Still the Vikings know all about the devils you don’t know. Free agents Mike Wallace and Michael Floyd were both supposed to add to their offense and neither lived up to expectations. Wright was nothing if not reliable. Maybe that was worth paying for.

The post Vikings might end up missing Jarius Wright appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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