Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Can Vikings find No. 1 receiver in free agency?

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Super Bowl, Vikings draft Updated: February 2, 2012 - 3:12 PM

The Giants are living in some kind of dream world right now.

It's a place where one can give up 400 points, be outscored during the regular season and still end up in the Super Bowl with another Tom Coughlin-coached team that's peaking at exactly the right time (BTW, can we officially stop putting this poor man on the hot seat every time the Giants lose a game?)

It's also a world where an undrafted receiver (Victor Cruz) spends his rookie season as an invisible practice squad player before catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns as a 25-year-old second-year pro.

Now that's a place the receiver-challenged Vikings would love to visit.

It's doubtful the Vikings have a practice squad receiver destined for a 1,500-yard season in 2012, so it's a good bet they'll look elsewhere.

Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon with the No. 3 pick in the draft is one way to go. But with so many needs, it's hard to imagine the Vikings selecting a receiver in the top three.

Free agency is another avenue the team will explore long before the draft. Here are some of the top receivers who may end up as unrestricted free agents on March 13. They're in the last year of their contracts, but could still end up being tagged as their team's franchise players:

Wes Welker, Patriots: Caught a league-high 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns. But turns 31 in May.

Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs: Had 81 catches for 1,159 yards and five touchdowns. Big receiver who will be 28 next year.

Marques Colston, Saints: An even bigger receiver who turns 29 in June. Caught 80 passes for 1,143 yards and eight TDs.

Vincent Jackson, Chargers. He's 29 and is even bigger than Colston. Had 60 catches for 1,106 yards (18.4 average) and nine touchdowns.

 Early Doucet, Cardinals. Had 54 catches and five touchdowns.

Laurent Robinson, Cowboys. Will be 27 in May. Had 54 catches, a 15.9-yard average and 11 touchdowns.

Pierre Garcon, Colts. Had 70 catches and six TDs.

Reggie Wayne, Colts. Had 75 catches, a 12.8-yard average and four TDs. Also 33 years old.

DeSean Jackson, Eagles. Obviously, a cream-of-the-crop free agent if he ends up on the market. Incredibly talented and only 25. But let's just say he can be a moody little fella.

Brandon Lloyd, Rams. Caught 70 passes for 966 yards (13.8) and five TDs. He'll be 31 in July.

Stevie Johson, Bills. Turns 26 in July. An interesting prospect who had 76 catches for 1,004 yards (13.2) and seven TDs.

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Houston 10 2nd Qtr 7:59
Pittsburgh 0
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 4th Qtr 0:48
Cleveland 105
New Orleans 83 4th Qtr 1:30
Washington 76
Milwaukee 77 3rd Qtr 5:01
New York 77
Philadelphia 61 3rd Qtr 3:54
Brooklyn 61
Charlotte 73 3rd Qtr 2:03
Atlanta 75
Sacramento 34 2nd Qtr 8:56
San Antonio 35
Memphis 34 2nd Qtr 9:01
Dallas 34
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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