Second-tier receivers don’t offer much

If the Vikings are true to their word and don’t go after one of the big-money, free-agent receivers, the second tier might not offer much of an upgrade from what is already on their roster.

Last year the Minnesota Vikings seemed to lack a No. 1 receiver. They only had a player go over 100 yards receiving three times, and two of those times came from Jarius Wright. Wright was often considered to be the third or fourth receiver on the depth chart, and would mainly be used as a slot guy.

There were a lot of high hopes for Cordarrelle Patterson entering his second season in the NFL after a productive rookie season. Things didn’t work out the way many people expected, though, and Patterson seemed to actually take a step backward in his development. He even lost his starting spot as the “X” receiver later in the season.

The player who replaced him as the starting “X” receiver was Charles Johnson. Johnson may have been the closest thing the Vikings had to a No. 1 receiver in 2014. He seemed to get better as the season progressed and he formed a bond with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. There are still many aspects of his game he needs to improve on, though, and if Patterson improves his game, it could be a battle for playing time between him and Johnson.

Then there is Greg Jennings, whom the Vikings brought in a few years ago to be a No. 1 receiver. He has a big contract, but the most receiving yards he has is 804 in 2013, and he had a combine 10 touchdowns in his two seasons with Minnesota. It is possible that the Vikings will approach Jennings looking to restructure his contract to open up more cap space.

Because of the inconsistent play from the wide receiver position, it is likely that the Vikings will look toward the draft or free agency to bring in another player. If they address the position in free agency, though, it might not be one of the big-name free agents as the Vikings have said they are not planning on going after the big-money guys in free agency this offseason. Whether that’s truth or not remains to be seen.

One player they could look to target would be Ted Ginn Jr. In 2007, Ginn was a first-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in hopes of being a dynamic No. 1 receiver. Even though he never panned out that way, he is still a very athletic player with great top-end speed. Last season, he didn’t make much of an impact on the offensive side of the ball, recording 14 receptions for 190 yards, but he was able to make an impact as a returner, returning a punt for a touchdown.

Another receiver that the Vikings could target is Eddie Royal. Unlike Ginn, Royal’s biggest contribution to the team came on the offensive side of the ball last season. He recorded 62 receptions for 778 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns. Throughout his career, Royal has been used as both a punt returner and kickoff returner, but his special teams roll seemed to decrease some last year. He returned just 11 punts.

Green Bay’s Jarrett Boykin is another possible target that the Vikings could look at. He has shown flashes with the Packers that he could be a successful receiver in the NFL, but he was buried on their depth chart to get any sort of consistency.

In the end, it is very possible that the Vikings do not bring in any new receivers through free agency. They already have a loaded depth chart with Wright, Patterson, Johnson, Jennings and Adam Thielen, but they don’t have a true No. 1 guy yet and the second tier of free agency isn’t likely to produce that.

If they bring in a new receiver, they would likely have to cut one of the ones already on the roster, and it may not be much of an upgrade.

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