While most of the rumors this time of year are unfounded, one recently caught my attention. The word on Twitter is that the Minnesota Vikings are expected to target current Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Keelan Cole when he becomes a free agent next month.
While the Vikings most need improvement in the trenches next season, they also need a third wideout to complement Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Both receivers were able to have an incredible season, but it would be nice if Minnesota could bring someone in who could take the pressure off of them.
Cole could be that guy.
While Chad Beebe posted a career-high 201 yards last year, that won’t cut it going into next year. However, Cole looks to be the perfect fit because of his established relationship with new wideouts coach Keenan McCardell. After playing this season under the RFA second-round tender, Cole recorded a career-high 55 receptions for 642 yards and five touchdowns.
The only potential problem with Cole is that he likes to operate out of the slot. This season Cole played 534 of his 785 snaps from the slot, using his size and speed to beat opposing cornerbacks. Ideally the Vikings would find someone who can play outside the numbers and let Jefferson or Thielen take advantage of the mismatches in the slot.
It shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, however, because both Thielen and Jefferson were able to win on the outside with ease last year.
Cole could also serve as the punt returner, another dire need. He displays his electrifying speed and great vision when following his blocks on punt returns.
Signing Cole would allow the Vikings to part ways with both Beebe and K.J. Osborn. In one move they could create an extra roster spot to add a lineman for depth and make drafting another receiver a lower priority.
However, signing him won’t be easy. There will be a market for Cole in free agency, and the Vikings are currently around $9.5 million over the cap. They can create space through restructures or cutting veteran players, and Cole finds himself in a deep class of free-agent receivers headlined by Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin.
Maybe Cole will see the fit and sign with Minnesota, allowing them to fill two needs at once.