High-end WRs not plentiful in free agency

If the Vikings are looking to make a free-agent splash at receiver, their options are limited and they likely will have to move in a hurry. After the high-dollar receivers, however, there are plenty of intriguing complementary options.

With free agency officially opening Tuesday, one of the primary positions that many analysts have mentioned as a target for the Vikings is wide receiver. The big question at this point is whether or not Percy Harvin will be back with the Vikings.

There remains something of a closed-door policy as it pertains to Harvin's role in the team's future. He still has one year remaining on his current contract, which grossly underpays him for the contribution he makes to the team. The Vikings have the leverage because the only way out of the deal is to trade Harvin, sign him long-term or endure a potential holdout if his contract situation doesn't change.

With the Harvin issue still unresolved, the Vikings face the question of how to move forward. It seems like a foregone conclusion that the receiver corps needs to get an infusion of talent, whether that arrives in the form of a free agent, a high draft pick or both. The team has a recent history of not overspending in free agency and has swung and missed often when trying to add a veteran free agent – see Bernard Berrian, Michael Jenkins, etc. As the Vikings scour their list of available wide receivers, these are the players to keep an eye on because they are the most likely to be among the first flurry of signings. If the Vikings want one of them, they will likely have to move quickly to land one of these soon-to-be free agents.

THE HIGH-RENT DISTRICT

Mike WallaceHe has been the one big-name wide receiver linked to having interest from the Vikings. If Harvin gets moved, the importance of getting a veteran receiver with playmaking ability is needed. If Harvin does return, the Vikings will likely have to invest in a long-term contract for him as well, because if he was unhappy last year, he'll be downright salty if a teammate at his position is being paid five times more than he is.

Greg JenningsHis familiarity with the personnel in the division is a plus, but Jennings isn't a dominant receiver that takes over games. He's an excellent 1B type of receiver. The same scenario with the Harvin situation exists and the Vikings have a history of taking Green Bay castoffs (Brett Favre, Ryan Longwell, Darren Sharper) and moving them west across the Vikings-Packers Mason-Dixon line.

Wes WelkerHe is an ideal fit to stay in New England, where he and Tom Brady have become a lethal combination because they have such impeccable timing together. If he goes elsewhere, there is no guarantee of the same type of production. He's going to get paid, but, if the Vikings are going to give a veteran on the wrong side of 30 that kind of money, why not just give it to Harvin?

THE HOMETOWN GUY

Jerome Simpson – The Vikings didn't get much out of Simpson after he missed the start of the season serving his suspension from back in his days with the Bengals. Once he came back, he battled injuries and 2012 was largely a lost season. He has the big-play skills the Vikings need and, given his lack of production, his price tag can't be that high. If he likes the Vikings locker room, he could be brought back for a hometown discount and the Vikings can use their free agent money to make Harvin happy.

THE MORE AFFORDABLE OPTIONS

Danny AmendolaHe's an option only if Harvin isn't coming back. His best bet is to take the approach Brian Hartline did with Miami – take a little less than he might get on the open market and stay where he knows the offense and his QB has confidence in him. Health is always a concern with him.

Donnie AveryAnother Harvin type, like Amendola, he has value only if Harvin doesn't return.

Steve BreastonThe Vikings had an interest in Breaston when he signed with Kansas City, so it would appear that G.M. Rick Spielman has a fancy for him … or least he had a fancy for him. This issue: If they had interest in him, they could have already made their move since he was released. There was some initial interest in Breaston, but the Vikings aren't believed to be one of those teams that showed intrigue. He wouldn't be a significant upgrade, but would be a decent replacement for recently released Michael Jenkins.

Ted Ginn Jr. – A career underachiever, Ginn has the ability to be a strong player and has return ability, which makes him a dual threat. If Harvin is back, the potential signing of Ginn would give the Vikings one of the most deadly return games in the league, which could make him a player worth consideration.

Joshua CribbsHe has playmaking ability, but, to date, his career has been marked more as a return man than a receiver, so he wouldn't likely be a big contributor.

Devery HendersonHe has never lived up to his hype, but has big-play ability. Then again, any receiver with Drew Brees as his quarterback has a chance to make a difference.

Mohamed Massaquoi – He carved a niche for himself in Cleveland, but is more of a receiver that moves the chains, not scores touchdowns.

Ramses BardenHe is a huge target and someone will want him as a red zone threat. Injuries have slowed his career to this point, but he fits the M.O. of what the Vikings want in a receiver in their arsenal.

Randy MossJust kidding. When you make a caterer, you've worn out your welcome. At least this time around, it wouldn't cost the Vikings a third-round draft pick. The best idea for Moss would be to sign a one-day contract and let him retire as a Viking … if that's what he wants.

What the Vikings do both in free agency and the draft will likely be determined by what happens with Harvin. If he does come back, the Vikings could still use both free agency this month and the draft next month to give Christian Ponder more weapons. We may have to wait awhile to find out what the Vikings do with Harvin, but, if they make a big signing early in free agency or take a bargain player with a similar skill set, it may be sending the message before anything "official."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



Viking Update Top Stories

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The team has a recent history of not overspending in free agency and has swung and missed often when trying to add a veteran free agent – see Bernard Berrian, Michael Jenkins, etc. As the Vikings scour their list of available wide receivers, these are the players to keep an eye on because they are the most likely to be among the first flurry of signings. If the Vikings want one of them, they will likely have to move quickly to land one of these soon-to-be free agents. He has been the one big-name wide receiver linked to having interest from the Vikings. If Harvin gets moved, the importance of getting a veteran receiver with playmaking ability is needed. If Harvin does return, the Vikings will likely have to invest in a long-term contract for him as well, because if he was unhappy last year, he'll be downright salty if a teammate at his position is being paid five times more than he is. 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He has the big-play skills the Vikings need and, given his lack of production, his price tag can't be that high. If he likes the Vikings locker room, he could be brought back for a hometown discount and the Vikings can use their free agent money to make Harvin happy. He's an option only if Harvin isn't coming back. His best bet is to take the approach Brian Hartline did with Miami – take a little less than he might get on the open market and stay where he knows the offense and his QB has confidence in him. Health is always a concern with him. Another Harvin type, like Amendola, he has value only if Harvin doesn't return. The Vikings had an interest in Breaston when he signed with Kansas City, so it would appear that G.M. Rick Spielman has a fancy for him … or least he had a fancy for him. This issue: If they had interest in him, they could have already made their move since he was released. 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