The Vikings will presumably be dipping into free agency this offseason as a means of rectifying their glaring receiver issues. Which guy or guys they end up targeting may be a matter of cost as much as anything. We know Rick Spielman isn’t big on splurging. But that could change a little this offseason with the Vikings badly needing more offensive weapons and the pool of available players being richer than in most years.
The first and most important step in the overall free agency process is the setting of the market. This happens early when the most coveted guys are snapped up. The contracts these high-end guys get will determine what everyone else gets. This year, the free agent receiver market will most likely be set by Mike Wallace. He seems the most attractive guy out there if you take out Dwayne Bowe who is likely to be franchise tagged by Kansas City.
Wallace won’t be franchise tagged by Pittsburgh. He’s hitting the market. And now we have a sense of what he wants to get. Omar Kelly says the Dolphins will go after Wallace hard and will likely offer a contract worth around $12 million-per-year. So that’s probably the biggest number we’ll see for a receiver this offseason. That sounds like a lot for a guy coming off a subpar season but remember, Miami is desperate for weapons and they have a ton of cap space. Desperation plus a ton of cap space equals over-blown contracts.
But what will this ultimately mean for the Vikings’ pursuit of a free agent receiver? They’re not going to bid on Wallace if the number is $12 million-per, you can bet on that. Rick Spielman doesn’t overpay unless it’s a #2 tight end. That leaves the Vikings going down the list to guys like Greg Jennings. But Jennings is an odd case because he’s coming off an injury-plagued season and no one’s really sure what his value should be. Jennings may look at it and say, “If Wallace is worth $12 million, I’m worth at least $10 million.” And maybe there’s even a team willing to pay Jennings $10 million. Would you pay Greg Jennings $10 million coming off a season where he was hurt a lot and didn’t put up the sort of numbers we expect from Greg Jennings?
I’m not sure I would. I definitely wouldn’t pay Mike Wallace $12 million. But of course we’re overlooking one important factor in this whole thing, the Percy Harvin factor. That situation really needs to be settled before the Vikings can make any decision at all on bringing in a free agent. If the Vikes decide to smooth it over with Percy and give him a long-term deal worth what Percy thinks he’s worth? Then I don’t see any way they go after Jennings unless no one else wants him and his value tanks. No way they pay two receivers at least $10 million each. That would just be idiotic.
So many questions yet to answer. All we have so far are early indications of what guys might be worth and where the market might settle. If the bidding gets intense on these receivers, I think the Vikes will bow out like they did last year. Rick Spielman may get the go-ahead to spend a little money but that doesn’t mean he’ll just go crazy. I believe they’ll pick up a receiver but my expectation is that it will be someone second-tier like Domenik Hixon or Brandon Gibson. Jennings comes into play if he fails to find a market. Maybe the Vikes up their offer on a Jennings if they decide to move on from Percy Harvin.
And there’s the draft to consider. Plenty of receiver talent in there too. So many factors to contemplate. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.