The Minnesota Vikings haven’t had a reliable third wide receiver since 2017 — the year they made the NFC title game.
While it’s true the third wide receiver in the Vikings run-first offense is often underutilized, a third receiver who could take advantage of mismatches could help improve Minnesota’s 16th-ranked third-down conversion rate of 40.9% from 2020.
Coincidentally, the man who complemented Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs in 2017 recently called on the Vikings to re-sign him: Jarius Wright.
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‘Bring Me Back’
Earlier this week on Twitter, a fan tweeted that the Vikings need a No. 3 wideout like Wright. Wright responded, quoting the tweet and adding, “Or just bring me back. Lol.”
Wright, who played six seasons with the Vikings from 2012-17, has a reputation for coming in clutch for Minnesota.
Of Wright’s 18 receptions in 2017, 11 went for first downs and two for touchdowns. Seven catches were third-down conversions.
Known around the Vikings locker room as “Mr. Clutch,” Wright also received the nickname “Mr. Efficient” from Teddy Bridgewater and glowing praise from Diggs.
“Mr. Jarius Wright, we call him Mr. Third Down,” Stefon Diggs said after a 14-9 win over the Falcons in 2017, per Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson. “He does some great things when he gets the ball in his hands. He gets us conversions, we convert, try to keep the ball moving and sustain drives.”
Wright signed with the Carolina Panthers after the 2017 season to play for his home state’s team. He played in all 32 games the next two seasons, catching 71 passes for 743 yards and a touchdown. He also logged a career-high 43 catches in 2018.
Wright continued to carve out a role as a clutch third-down option with the Panthers, while his most lasting NFL memory was his 87-yard catch-and-run overtime TD against the New York Jets in 2013.
He was not rostered for the 2020 season and appeared to have spent the year coaching. Wright has likely lost a step after missing a year. However, a try out would be a low-risk option the Vikings could explore.
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Wright Fits Veteran Free-Agent Signing
The Vikings have rolled the dice with veteran free-agent wide receivers before.
Last season, Minnesota signed Tajae Sharpe, who was the presumed No. 2 option behind Thielen before the draft. Justin Jefferson’s breakout rookie campaign relegated Sharpe to the bench, turning the initial hype of his signing into a simple insurance policy. Sharpe saw just three targets in 13 games before he was released.
Wright likely isn’t going to win the role as a true No. 3 wideout on the team. But his expertise and ability on third down could come in handy, especially considering Thielen and Jefferson are the only two proven wide receivers on the roster.