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.


Vikings 2013 look ahead: Wide receivers

Posted by: under Vikings, Lions, NFL draft, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: January 23, 2013 - 11:07 AM

The Vikings coaching staff and front office are in the process of fully evaluating their roster as they plan for the opening of free agency in March as well as April’s NFL Draft. As General Manager Rick Spielman, head coach Leslie Frazier and their respective staffs put their heads together, the Access Vikings team is doing the same. We are in the middle of delivering snapshot evaluations of every position group. Today, we look at the receivers.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Get excited: Disclaimer: we had to search long and hard to find substantive reasons to get excited about what happened with the Vikings’ receiving unit in 2012.

But we can offer you the following:

a)      When Percy Harvin was healthy and fully engaged in the season’s first half, he was widely touted as an MVP candidate. Through Week 8, Harvin had a league-best 60 catches for 667 yards and three touchdowns. He was also a major threat on kickoff returns, evidenced by his 35.9 yards per return average and his 105-yard score in Detroit.

b)      After Harvin sprained an ankle in Week 9 in Seattle, an injury that ultimately ended his season, rookie Jarius Wright made the most of his newfound opportunity. After being inactive for the Vikings’ first nine games, Wright’s first career reception was a 54-yarder against the Lions in Week 10 followed two plays later with a 3-yard touchdown grab. In the Vikings’ playoff-clinching win in the regular season finale, Wright had an 8-yard TD grab, an odd 17-yard catch to aid another TD drive and delivered the longest reception of the Vikings’ season, a 65-yarder in the fourth quarter that set up a key go-ahead touchdown against Green Bay. Wright’s flashes were eye-catching. And his humble, team-first attitude was impressive.

c)       With all the credit that deserved to be spread around with Adrian Peterson’s remarkable 2,097-yard rushing season, the solid blocking of the Vikings’ receivers made a significant difference, a buy-in that was probably under appreciated. Said receivers coach George Stewart: “These guys all know that Adrian Peterson is here. And Coach Frazier said it from Day One: ‘We will win with our run game.’ So what I’ve loved most about this group of receiver is that they’re all unselfish. If they catch a ball, great. If they have to block for Adrian, great. And for a coach to have a bunch of unselfish guys, especially at this position, is gratifying.”

So there’s that, right?

And yes, we’re acknowledging again that our “Get Excited” reasons took some thinking. So let’s move on.

Keep an eye on: With plenty of cap room, the Vikings will be able to freely explore the free agent market in March in search of aid to bolster their downfield passing attack. Greg Jennings will be a free agent after spending the first seven seasons of his career in Green Bay. The other marquee names that could eventually be available include Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace.

But to be clear, before dishing out big money for a free agent receiver, the Vikings will have to come to a resolution on how they will handle Harvin’s future. They’ll need to either offer Harvin a long-term contract extension, a lucrative deal that would likely hamper any hopes of spending additional big money on guys like Jennings, Bowe or Wallace. Or they can open their ears to possible trade offers for Harvin. Or, in the worst case scenario, they can do nothing and ask Harvin to play out the final year of his rookie deal for a $1.55 million salary, a move that would be quite risky if there’s hope of keeping the mercurial receiver happy long-term.

As free agency goes, it may be more likely for the Vikings to explore a few second-tier options – guys like Donnie Avery or Brandon Gibson if they become available. And then with the No. 23 pick in April’s draft, the Vikings should have plenty of options to land a young and promising talent. Keep tabs on Baylor’s Terrance Williams, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins and Cal’s Keenan Allen in the coming months. They could all be intriguing possibilities.

Reason for worry: With Harvin placed on Injured Reserve in early December, the Vikings finished the season with an active receiving unit of Wright, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Jerome Simpson and Stephen Burton. Aromashodu and Simpson are both set to become free agents in March with few promises that they’d be back for another season. Even if either or both of those guys is re-signed, it’s unlikely that would come before free agency opens.

Jenkins will turn 31 in June and while he is a smart and dependable veteran, he has clearly lost a step. And for all the belief in Burton’s potential, he contributed five catches for 35 yards in his second NFL season.

In other words, with or without Harvin, the Vikings receiving unit is in need of a major overhaul that will likely take more than one offseason to complete.

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Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
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 6:00 PM
Cleveland
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Washington
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
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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