The Minnesota Vikings have been trying to find a third receiver ever since Jarius Wright left after the 2017 season, and they keep looking to the draft as the way to solve this issue. Whether it was Wright or the recently drafted Ihmir Smith-Marsette, it seems like the Vikings keep making late-round selections to fill a hole that they’ve had for years.
They need to stop half-heartedly trying to address this issue with late-round picks and go with a proven veteran. Dez Bryant could be a perfect fit for the Vikings next year.
Many expected Minnesota to nab a WR3 in free agency. Names like Keelan Cole and Curtis Samuel were thrown around, but nothing came to fruition. While fifth-round pick Smith-Marsette is a potential solution, the Vikings have drafted promising receivers late who didn’t pan out. By bringing in Bryant, they create competition in camp.
Before we start, let’s get this out of the way: Dez is in no way meant to be the Vikings WR1 — or even WR2, for that matter. The Vikings are in a completely different place than the Baltimore Ravens, who signed Bryant out of desperation last year. Baltimore didn’t have a WR1, so they took a leap of faith and signed him midway through the season to get a weapon for Lamar Jackson.
On the other hand, the Vikings have Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who should have arguably been Rookie of the year last year. Both players are established playmakers, but they could use a third receiver to take the focus off of them. Signing Dez as a WR3 would be one of the best moves the Vikings could make.
Last year Dez had six receptions for 47 yards and two touchdowns in six games with the Ravens. Nothing flashy, but he still clearly made an impact and showed shades of his past self. Check out this sliding grab he made, which was his first touchdown since 2017.
Though Dez’s time with the Ravens was mostly remembered for a random COVID-19 test, much of his impact came in a leadership role. Having a veteran presence in the locker room was huge. Dez has been in the league since 2010, and he was able to help the young Ravens team dissect film. And his name still carries weight in the NFL, even at 32 years old.
Speaking of his name, just having Dez on the field commands much more attention than the likes of Chad Beebe, Olabisi Johnson or any other average WR3 would. Cornerbacks will have to focus on Dez on every play, regardless of who they are matched up against.
Imagine an offense with Dalvin Cook, Dez, Thielen and Jefferson on the field at the same time. That offensive corps is in the same ballpark as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. There would be a dynamic playmaker at every skill position, giving defensive coordinators nightmares.
It would be nearly impossible for teams to cover Jefferson, Thielen and Dez effectively. Add Cook into that equation as well, and Kirk Cousins will have someone open on every play.
Not only would signing Dez be a great move on the field, but every time a superstar name joins your team, it instantly gets the fanbase fired up. I’m sure we would see many Vikings fans rocking No. 88 and throwing up the X on Sundays.
Also, just because Dez is a big name doesn’t mean he would demand a big salary. Not only would he come at a discounted rate because he was out of the league for two years before signing with Baltimore, but he is possibly one of the lowest risk-free agency signings we would see in this offseason. For something around a league minimum, you would be getting a generational talent with experience and the mindset of a leader who would draw attention away from your two stud receivers.
It is potentially one of the best scenarios that no one is talking about.
Being able to sign someone with the talent of Dez for cheap doesn’t come around often. The Vikings are one of the best fits for him, and adding him would elevate their offense to the next level.