Vikings Urged to Add Deep-Threat WR With Justin Jefferson Injured

Preston Williams

Getty Former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams.

The Minnesota Vikings‘ first week with Justin Jefferson on injured reserve proved troubling for the offense, prompting Bleacher Report to urge the Vikings to sign a deep-threat wide receiver to keep the team competitive in Jefferson’s absence.

Bleacher Report’s staff, assessing the biggest weaknesses on every team, suggested Minnesota sign former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams.

“Williams had a few solid years in Miami to start his career with 56 catches for 787 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons. At 6’4″, he has the potential to be a threat on contested catches in the red zone, which is something the 5’11” Jordan Addison lacks,” Bleacher Report’s staff wrote. “Worst-case scenario, the former Dolphin doesn’t work out in Minnesota and the team moves on. Best-case scenario, Williams ends up forming a nice trio of wideouts with Jefferson and Addison next season.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on October 14 that doctors believe Jefferson’s hamstring injury will sideline him four to six weeks. Jefferson will undergo further testing when he becomes eligible to be activated off the injured reserve list Week 10.

Williams could be considered as a short-term solution to Jefferson’s absence. If that works out, he could also take the No. 3 wide receiver reigns from K.J. Osborn, an impending free agent next offseason.

Preston Williams’ Deep-Threat Potential

Preston Williams

GettyPreston Williams’ could provide a needed deep threat to a Vikings offense missing Justin Jefferson.

A five-star recruit coming out of Lovejoy, Georgia, in 2014, Williams committed to Tennessee but made his mark in college at Colorado State three years later. He posted 96 receptions, 1,345 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns in 2018. He skipped his senior season of eligibility to declare for the NFL draft.

A poor combine performance mixed with character issues led Williams, considered a mid-round prospect, to go undrafted. He got his chance in Miami, proving to be the most consistent Dolphins wide receiver at training camp and making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie.

“That guy can be special,” Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said of Williams in 2019, per the Miami Herald. “He’s still learning. He’s just a rookie. [There] is so much room for improvement with him, but he’s going to be a No. 1 receiver one day.”

Williams was fitting that role, leading Miami with 357 receiving yards through the Dolphins’ first seven games and led all rookie receivers with 60 targets. He tore his ACL in Week 9, shutting his impressive first season that proved many pundits wrong.

Williams struggled to stay healthy the following two seasons, playing eight games each year before he was released in 2022 amid a reshuffling of the coaching staff. He appeared in one game with the Carolina Panthers last season. The Panthers cut him in May, and Williams has only had a few team workouts since.

 Vikings Will Have a Difficult Time Keeping K.J. Osborn With Justin Jefferson Extension

Drafted the same year, Osborn and Jefferson have both proven to be homerun selections given their respective draft positions.

Jefferson is the league’s No. 1 wide receiver and should strike a lucrative extension sometime next offseason. Meanwhile, Osborn, a fifth-round pick, was a reliable and steady third option behind Adam Thielen and Jefferson the past two seasons.

But with the Vikings selecting Jordan Addison in the first round this year, Addison is expected to be the long-term No. 2 option to Jefferson. Osborn will have an opportunity to find a larger role when he hits free agency in March.

Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson will command a sizeable share of cap space and an explosion in the wide receiver market in recent years could see Osborn  — a price the Vikings may be unwilling to match.

That makes Osborn a potential trade candidate ahead of the league deadline on October 31, but at the very least, the Vikings should consider what the offense will look like without Osborn.