The Vikings have a two-tier roster, according to General Manager Rick Spielman, who referred this spring to an “expensive tier in your starters” and less-expensive backups. Those bargain-deal players still will find ways to contribute on a crowded roster. Here are the top three position battles we’ll be watching this summer:
No. 3 receiver
Laquon Treadwell’s first couple of seasons frustrated many, perhaps no one more than himself. But the third-year wide receiver is coming off a spring in which he took the lion’s share of first-team reps at the No. 3 spot with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as starters. Kirk Cousins could give Treadwell more opportunities than he got from Case Keenum, who threw nearly three-quarters of his passes to only four targets. Look for Stacy Coley and Kendall Wright to also push for playing time.
Eric Wilson, the second-year undrafted linebacker from Cincinnati, caught some attention this spring. Not only does Wilson (6-1, 230 pounds) look stronger, the Vikings were using him more with the first-team defense this spring. Ben Gedeon took the weak-side job last season and will remain a mainstay on special teams, as will Wilson. It’s possible the Vikings find ways to use both of them depending on the situation.
Marcus Sherels’ modest deal to return to the Vikings for a ninth season signaled he’d have to compete for his job(s) this summer. He’s been one of the NFL’s most successful punt returners since 2011, when the Vikings initially started to benefit from the undrafted Gophers’ talents. This spring, Sherels split return reps with rookie cornerback Mike Hughes, whose 16.6 yards per punt return was among the best in the NCAA last fall.