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NFL Free Agency: Vikings Should Eye Vincent Jackson As Potential Wide Receiver Target

The Minnesota Vikings must address the wide receiver position this offseason. Which NFL free agents would be the best fit?

The Minnesota Vikings went 3-13 last year, tying the record for the most losses in the history of the franchise. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that they have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. One of the biggest gaps to address being the wide receiver position because, outside of Percy Harvin, the Vikings don't have a dependable pass catcher -- especially one that can consistently stretch the field.

The Vikings could use the third overall pick to nab a promising young rookie like Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd, but there are two immutable facts not up for debate in this space:

  1. Wide receivers rarely make a big impact in their rookie seasons. Julio Jones and A.J. Green had some success this past year, but they're more the exception that proves the rule.
  2. The Vikings should use their first round pick to take Matt Kalil. Christian Ponder could have a bevvy of elite receivers at his disposal, but it won't do any good if he's constantly running for his life behind shoddy pass protection. Drafting Kalil makes the most sense even if it won't grab the most headlines.
Now that those ground rules out of the way, the Vikings might as well start looking at wide receivers from this year's free agent crop. Luckily for them, the 2012 class is pretty stacked, but let's look at how each could possibly fit with the Vikings:
  • Vincent Jackson: V-Jax is among the crown jewels of this year's class. He has had some issues with injuries and attitude in the past, but there isn't another wideout that could help Minnesota more. He's big, he stretches the field, and he produces -- exactly what the Vikings need right now. Recent reports are saying that San Diego won't use the franchise tag on Jackson so it's very possible that he'll be on the open market. The price tag may be a bit high, but that's what cap room is for.
  • Reggie Wayne: Nobody missed Peyton Manning more than Wayne last season. He narrowly missed his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season in the last year of his contract and had his worst statistical season since 2003. But Wayne's loss may have been the Vikings' gain because his sub-par season may have lowered the cost to get him in free agency. As long as you believe that the 33-year-old has something left in the tank and wasn't just a product of Manning's system, he could look good in purple next year.
  • Marques Colston: While it seems Wayne could be successful outside of Indy, there are doubts from your's truly about Colston excelling away from New Orleans. Colston has size and hands, but he's the beneficiary of a ton of single coverage (thanks to the plethora of weapons the Saints have) and pinpoint passes (thanks to Drew Brees being...well, Drew Brees). Can he be "the guy?"
  • Stevie Johnson: Tons of talent and upside, but he's a head case. The guy drops more balls than [insert dirty joke here]. Besides, like a buddy pointed out the other day, what grown man voluntarily calls himself "Stevie?"
  • DeSean Jackson: Another incredible talent unfortunately paired with an unstable host. But while Stevie's shenanigans are usually cheeky and fun, DeSean's shenanigans are cruel and tragic. (EVIL SHENANIGANS!) Jackson will want to get paid like a top-flight wide receiver, but he hasn't earned it.
  • Brandon Lloyd: Lloyd had an amazing 2010 campaign with Denver that came out of nowhere, and he was the go-to receiver in St. Louis after he arrived during the 2011 season. It'd make sense for the Vikings take a run at Lloyd, but it looks like the Rams and Patriots are the current leaders in the clubhouse for respectively retaining or acquiring his services.
  • Wes Welker: He's technically a free agent, but there's no way Welkahh is leaving Boaahhston. The Patriots won't let their stat machine walk. Let's just move on.
  • Dwayne Bowe: Nice thought, but this one isn't going to happen either. All signs are pointing to the Chiefs using their franchise tag on Bowe. Next!
  • Mario Manningham: It seems he'll be departing the New York Giants, but will a very good third option suddenly become a dependable #1 option with a new team?
  • Laurent Robinson: One-year wonder or legitimate NFL threat? There's no discounting what he did in Dallas last year, but it's a risk to give a big payday to someone that has topped 450 yards in exactly one of his five pro seasons.
  • Mike Wallace: Nobody stretches the field for 60 Minutes like Wallace. (Yep, that's a terrible 60 Minutes/Mike Wallace pun. Deal with it.) He could give Harvin a ton of space to run wild underneath. Unfortunately for the Vikings, he's only a restricted free agent this year, which makes it much trickier to snag him from Pittsburgh.
It's tough to make a clear-cut decision with this many options. Let's just hope the Vikings make the right one when it comes to these free agents.

For more on the Minnesota Vikings, go to Daily Norseman. You can also get all of your professional football news over at SB Nation’s NFL hub.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.