The Minnesota Vikings made some additions to their wide receiver group this offseason, signing Jerome Simpson in free agency and drafting two wide receivers out of the University of Arkansas in Jarius Wright and Greg Childs in the fourth round of April’s draft. The battle for roster spots and roles should be interesting during training camp, and recent speculation has Michael Jenkins as the possible odd-man out.
Jenkins was signed by the Vikings as a free agent prior to the 2011 season after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. The Vikings’ interest in him was certainly at least partially rooted in his familiarity with Vikings’ offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, as the two had spent the 2006-2010 seasons together in Atlanta when Musgrave was the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach.
Jenkins had a few good moments last season on his way to 38 receptions for 466 yards and three touchdowns, but he missed the final five games of the season with a torn meniscus in his knee. He is reportedly back to full health heading into training camp, but his salary ($2.5 million for 2012 and 2013) and the fact he does not play special teams renders him virtually useless if he does not have a significant, at least in terms of playing time, offensive role.
If one of the rookies emerges during training camp, or if minicamp standout Stephen Burton continues his positive momentum, the Vikings would lose little by cutting ties with Jenkins before Week 1. One thing to keep in mind is that Simpson will serve a three-game suspension to start the season for a violation of the league’s drug policy and Jenkins could take over his starting job early in the season and then fade into the background. Given the financial commitment required, the Vikings are most certainly hoping at least one of the younger wide receivers proves worthy during the preseason and allows them to release Jenkins.