Why the No. 3 WR spot (probably) is not a priority for the Vikings

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Bisi Johnson
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Bisi Johnson /

There’s a good chance that the player who will end up being the No. 3 wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings next season is already on their roster.

During the last few months, the Minnesota Vikings have been one of the most active teams in the free-agent market. However, the majority of their additions have been guys who spend their time on the defensive side of the ball.

The Vikings might also not be done adding new faces to their roster before the start of the 2021 season. With a little over $13 million in cap space, Minnesota can take several different paths when it comes to finding some more help this year.

Some think the Vikings should bring in a veteran pass-catcher to be their No. 3 wide receiver for next season. However, there are multiple reasons to believe that this isn’t something Minnesota will be doing.

Finding a third receiver not vital for the success of the Minnesota Vikings in 2021

Ever since Jarius Wright left in 2018, there has been this desire by some for the Vikings to bring in a top talent to be the team’s No. 3 receiver. But when looking into what the role of Minnesota’s third wide receiver has been during the last few years, investing assets in a veteran pass-catcher could prove to be a waste.

Last season, the Vikings only utilized 1-1 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three receivers) on 29 percent of their plays. This was by far the lowest 1-1 personnel usage rate of any team in the NFL last year. In 2019, Minnesota used the grouping at an even lower rate of 25 percent.

With the Vikings last season, Chad Beebe ended up being on the field for 29 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, which was the third-highest percentage among all the wide receivers on Minnesota’s roster. Beebe also only accounted for 6.2 percent of the Vikings’ total targets in 2020.

Due to Adam Thielen dealing with an injury for most of the year, Bisi Johnson was actually on the field for 52.5 percent of Minnesota’s offensive plays in 2019.

However, when Thielen was completely healthy during the Vikings’ first six matchups of the 2019 campaign and in their two playoff games, Johnson was only involved in 32.4 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

So unless Minnesota isn’t confident in Thielen remaining healthy for the majority of the upcoming 2021 season, their recent tendencies seem to indicate that bringing in an above-average pass-catcher to be their third receiver probably isn’t something at the top of their list of priorities.

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Sure, someone like Dede Westbrook or Larry Fitzgerald would improve the Vikings’ current wide receiver depth. But Minnesota’s remaining cap space would be better utilized to improve a different area of their roster such as the interior of their offensive line or their pass-rushing depth.