Vikings reportedly meeting with a familiar free-agent WR

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) Dede Westbrook
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) Dede Westbrook /

Free-agent wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who spent the 2021 season with the Minnesota Vikings, could reportedly re-sign with the team this year.

A week ago, Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels used the word “rusty” to describe the four players taking punt return reps during the team’s OTA practice sessions this spring.

Now, it appears that the Vikings could be potentially bringing back someone who returned the majority of their punts last season.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Minnesota is bringing in free-agent wide receiver Dede Westbrook for a workout on Tuesday. Westbrook spent the 2021 season with the Vikings as their primary punt returner.

Dede Westbrook would give the Minnesota Vikings a reliable punt returner for 2022

With Minnesota in 2021, Westbrook returned 22 punts in 15 games and he averaged 8.3 yards per return. He also caught 10 passes for 68 yards on 15 targets for the Vikings last season.

Minnesota bringing in Westbrook on Tuesday seems like a sign that the team likely is not happy with the players that are currently in the running to be their punt returner for the 2022 campaign. Last week, Daniels revealed that K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, rookie Jalen Nailor, and undrafted rookie Thomas Hennigan have been getting punt return reps during OTAs this year.

Obviously, it wouldn’t be a splashy signing, but bringing back Westbrook would give the Vikings someone who has already proven multiple times in his NFL career that he can be a reliable punt returner. The more possible problems Minnesota can eliminate before the start of the 2022 season, the better.

Before landing with the Vikings in 2021, Westbrook spent the first four seasons of his pro career as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He caught a total of 132 passes for 1,377 yards, and eight touchdowns during the 2018 and 2019 campaigns, but a torn ACL prevented him from furthering his development in 2020.

Westbrook became a free agent in 2021 and he wound up signing a deal with Minnesota last July. Will the Vikings decide to bring him back for the 2022 season?

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