The Minnesota Vikings have a budding star at wide receiver in Percy Harvin, but outside of that they are largely searching for players that can make an impact and become difference makers in the passing game. The offseason signing of Jerome Simpson and the drafting of Greg Childs and Jarius Wright in April added some depth, creating the potential for an interesting competition for roster spots during the preseason.
But Simpson is slated to serve a three-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy to start the season, and now Childs is out for the season after tearing the patella tendon in both knees during Saturday night’s training camp scrimmage.
So the Vikings may be in the mix for a wide receiver via free agency or the trade market. A couple of wide receivers who could theoretically be available via trade, Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe, are almost certainly not on Minnesota’s radar, but who among the available free agents could the Vikings at least consider giving a look?
Here are five wide receivers who currently are without a team that the Vikings could be calling on over the next few days.
1. Plaxico Burress
Burress spent 2011 with the New York Jets after spending the previous two seasons out of the league while incarcerated on a 2008 gun charge, and was actually fairly productive with 45 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns while playing all 16 games. Multiple teams have been mentioned to have some level of interest in signing him for 2012, but up to now he has not signed anywhere.
Burress will turn 35 on August 12, so his best days are behind him and certainly his days of signing long-term, multi-year contracts are over. But his size (6’5″) makes him a very nice potential red zone target for any team in need of one, even if his overall role and snap count has to be limited some. It is unknown if the Vikings have any substantial interest, and at his age Burress would not fit with the youth movement the team has undergone on it’s roster since the end of 2011. So Burress himself may have little interest in even entertaining an offer from Minnesota if he wants to play for a championship-contending team.
2. Roy Williams
Williams has been a perpetual underachiever since being the seventh overall pick in 2004 by the Detroit Lions, as he only has one season with even 900 receiving yards (2006-1,310 yards) over his eight NFL seasons. In fact he has not had more than 38 receptions or 596 yards in a season since 2007 and has shown little explosiveness along with unreliable hands, so at age 31 it’s fair to wonder if he has anything left. Williams did have a strong finish to 2011 with 10 receptions in Week 16 and Week 17 combined, so perhaps he could take that momentum with him to a new team.
Williams has gotten little interest on the open market to this point, with the Houston Texans reportedly having him in for a workout at the end of July and ultimately not signing him. So the league-wide perception appears to be that he is in fact done barring injuries during the preseason, which the Vikings now have as a concern.
3. Mike Williams
Williams was released by the Seattle Seahawks in mid-July after a disappointing 2011 season (18 receptions for 236 yards and one touchdown in 12 games). Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said he had maxed out his effectiveness for the team, and to this point that seems to be the sentiment around the league as Williams has yet to even have a reported workout with any teams. He did have a significant leg injury at the end of last season, so his health may explain Seattle parting ways with him as well as the league-wide lack of interest.
Williams was on his way to being a bust before joining the Seahawks in 2010, and he had by far his best season with 65 catches for 751 yards with two touchdowns. He lacked breakaway speed before his leg issue, which is a major factor in his overall lack of NFL success, so his size (6’5″, 235 lbs.) remains by far his biggest asset.
4. Terrell Owens
Owens’ name is likely to be mentioned any time a team needs a wide receiver, and his career resume-1,078 receptions, 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns-makes him the most accomplished of the available free agent wide receivers. But he will turn 39 in December and sat out all of 2011 after suffering a knee injury late in 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals and failing to latch on anywhere.
Owens brings obvious baggage with him that is unlikely to appeal to the Vikings as they try to rebuild and bring along a young quarterback, but the team may deem him worthy of a least kicking the tires to see what kind of shape he is in.
5. Greg Camarillo
Camarillo does not fit with the rest of this group in terms of name recognition, but he did spend the past two seasons with the Vikings and that familiarity alone may be enough for there to be mutual interest in a reunion. He only had 29 catches over his time with the Vikings, but he did have back-t0-back seasons with at least 50 receptions with the Miami Dolphins in 2008 and 2009 and should have something to offer as a pass catcher.
Camarillo’s salary demands are unlikely to be high under the circumstances, so that may be appealing to Minnesota as well.
All in all the Vikings have to leave no stone unturned in their search to add someone to their wide receiver mix, assuming of course they choose to do so. It is possible they will choose to stick with their current group, with Devin Aromashodu, Michael Jenkins, Stephen Burton and Emmanuel Arceneaux all possibly in the mix to earn greater roles. Not exciting to say the least, so it’s fair to assume a wide receiver with a better resume will be added soon.