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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Should the Vikings consider signing Michael Floyd?

By Matthew Coller

How about this for a sentence from ESPN’s John Clayton:

“[Michael] Floyd’s free-agency move was put on hold while he served a 24-day jail sentence. Interest should pick up soon for the former first-round pick.”

The former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver was cut last season after being charged with his third DUI since 2011. He was picked up by the New England Patriots, but rarely saw the field, catching just four passes as a Patriot. In February, the 27-year-old was sentenced to 24 days in jail and 96 days of house arrest. Now he’s looking for a gig.

For a team like the Patriots, signing high-risk players is routine behavior. New England brought in Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay after he was accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Not that they exactly knew what he had done, but the Patriots are the team that employed Aaron Hernandez.

For the Minnesota Vikings, adding Floyd would stray a bit from character, even if it would mean a return to his hometown. Last season, the Vikings released Isame Faciane after he was charged with a DWI (though defensive coordinator George Edwards was retained after his own DWI arrest was discovered). In March, posted an article titled “Spielman, Zimmer want high character players on Vikings roster.”

Optics, of course, are only part of the risk of signing the former Notre Dame wide receiver. It’s certainly possible that Floyd’s jail sentence has acted as a wakeup call, but it’s also possible that it hasn’t.

When it comes to making a decision on Floyd, the player and his past cannot be separated. But on the football side, adding him to the Vikings roster would make a lot of sense.

While Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are caught their fair share of deep passes last season, neither is a pure deep threat like Floyd. According to Pro Football Focus metrics, his average depth of target last season was 15.8 yards, while Diggs’ was 8.7 and Thielen 11.2. Floyd has averaged as much high as 17.9 Yards Per Catch during his career in Arizona.

Tossing a downfield receiver into the mix could give the Vikings’ offense a completely different look from last season when the No. 3 receiver was essentially a running back. The average throw in Cordarrelle Patterson’s direction went just 4.8 yards through the air, the lowest in the NFL.

While the majority of Sam Bradford’s passes in Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense were underneath, when he did go deep, the Vikings’ quarterback had success. The only quarterbacks with a better rating than Bradford on throws qualified by official NFL play-by-play as “deep,” were Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger and Derek Carr.

He just wasn’t able to throw deep as often as those quarterbacks because of the Vikings’ struggling offensive line. But the signings of Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers should at least put Minnesota in the middle of the pack for pass protection – a huge improvement from last year.

One of the on-field concerns that has been voiced about Floyd is his drop rate. According to PFF data, he has 25 drops over five years. To put that in context, Diggs, Thielen and Patterson totaled four drops last year. All drops aren’t the same, though. Of the 25, only five came on passes under 20 yards.

A less-talked-about value of an effective deep passing game is getting pass interference calls. Last year, only five teams were the beneficiary of fewer yards via pass interference (Minnesota gained just 87 yards on six penalties). Oakland and Green Bay had nearly four times the yards from pass interferences as the Vikings.

Aside from his skill set making sense with Minnesota’s current receiving corps, another part of the case for Floyd is the total lack of receiving talent remaining in free agency. This week, Kamar Aiken and Brian Quick found homes. They were the last two flawed-but-talented regulars. The rest of the crop – players like Justin Hunter and Rod Streater have rarely shown signs of being above average.

This year’s crop of receivers in the draft are thought to be very good. CBS Sports gives 10 receivers grades between the first and third round, including some quality prospects like playmaker Curtis Samuel of Ohio State and Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp, who made a strong impression at the Senior Bowl.

Would the Vikings really want to spend their first pick on a receiver after Laquon Treadwell caught just one pass last year? It shouldn’t influence the decision, but it might serve as a warning that relying on a rookie is risky business.

So, while Floyd is a better option than most of the free agents or rookies and his skill set would be a nice fit with the Vikings’ offense, making a decision on whether to pursue him won’t be easy.

The post Should the Vikings consider signing Michael Floyd? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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