This is the final article in our End of Season series, summarizing everything that came out of the final Minnesota Vikings locker session before the team disbanded for the offseason.
-Diggs: Double Teams “Put Me in a Different Mind State”
-Latavius Murray Would Return to Vikings, But Wants to Compete For Starting Role
-Rhodes: “I’ve Been Fighting Injuries All Year”
-Will Dan Bailey Return Next Year?
Has Laquon Treadwell played his final game in purple, or is there one last opportunity ahead?
The former first-round pick faces a contract year, presuming the Vikings decline his fifth-year option in May. After three trying seasons in Minnesota, the team’s patience may be wearing thin with the 23rd pick from the 2016 draft.
Treadwell played a career high in snaps in 2018, received a career-high in targets and even scored his first and only career touchdown in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers. But he struggled with drops early in the season, only gained more than 40 yards in one game and was a healthy scratch in Week 16 against Detroit.
Nonetheless, Treadwell remains optimistic about his prospects.
“I had a couple drops, but overall I had a great year and this team had a great year,” he said on locker-clean-out day. “I played my role and did what I needed to do to help the team win.”
Treadwell played 54.8 percent of snaps, but out of 116 receivers who received over 30 targets on the season, per Pro Football Focus, Treadwell ranked 111th in yards per route run and 94th in passer rating when targeted. His five drops gave him the league’s 14th-highest drop rate.
Starting receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs ate up many of the team’s targets early in the season, but as they received more defensive attention in the second half of the year, Treadwell didn’t see a bump in production. Aldrick Robinson began seeing the field more than Treadwell in the final quarter of the season.
In theory, it’s a great fit for any third receiver to have two bona fide No. 1 pass catchers soaking up double teams, and Treadwell would like one more crack at it.
“These are my brothers and I love playing with these boys. If I’m back, that makes my year even better,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, I’ll say that. I just know the team and the personnel and the players. There’s a lot of great guys in the locker room, there’s a lot of great guys to learn from and to look up to. I would love to be back.”
Treadwell is scheduled to make over $3.1 million in 2019, a guaranteed figure due to his first-round draft status. That gives him more roster security than most in his situation. The Vikings may keep the 23-year-old around and hope Treadwell emerges in his fourth season like Cordarrelle Patterson, another late-blooming first-round receiver.
It’s likely the Vikings will supplement their receiving corps through the draft or free agency, so Treadwell will have to earn his opportunity if he wants Year 4 to be a breakthrough.
“He’s a young player,” said Diggs. “I’m super young, as well, but I’ve been where he’s at. I had to grind my way. A long time ago, I had to grind my way to where I am now. I just tell him to keep grinding, keep pushing.”