Entering their Week 7 bye at 5-1 and second in the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings are becoming contenders and with that territory comes interest and conversations involving prized free agents.
None in recent memory have carried as much weight as the anticipated return of Odell Beckham Jr. The 29-year-old star receiver was the Los Angeles Rams‘ MVP for the first half of last season’s Super Bowl before he went down in the second quarter with an ACL injury. He had caught two passes for 52 yards and a touchdown to create an early lead that Los Angeles carried to a 23-20 victory.
Beckham, whose contract with the Rams expired in the offseason, is expected to be ready to return to football late in the season. Many of the league’s contenders are beginning to surface as candidates to make him a late addition to their Super Bowl ambitions — a move that paid dividends for the Rams a year ago.
The Vikings’ have become a dark horse in the Beckham sweepstakes earlier this week after Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio amplified a piece written by longtime Vikings beat reporter Judd Zulgad.
KSTP’s Darren Wolfson addressed the Beckham chatter in Minnesota, which appears to be a tad preemptive at the moment.
‘No Steam’ on Odell Beckham Jr. Talks with Vikings
On an October 20 airing of the SKOR North podcast, Wolfson was asked to address the hype surrounding the potential of the Vikings to sign Beckham.
Zulgad, who was on the podcast as well, noted his piece was taking inventory of the connections between Beckham and the Vikings that could make a compelling case that the star receiver could land in Minnesota — and there are aplenty.
Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell had a good relationship with Beckham during the Ram’s Super Bowl run last season. O’Connell helped Beckham rediscover his potential after toiling for years with the Cleveland Browns.
Beckham is close friends with plenty of faces in the Vikings locker room that includes LSU alumni Danielle Hunter, Ed Ingram, Patrick Peterson, and most notably, Justin Jefferson. Beckham played with Jefferson’s older brother at LSU and said he and Beckham are “like brothers” and have a “strong bond.” Jefferson keeps in consistent contact with Beckham, including last season when he told Beckham to not sign with the Green Bay Packers. They’ve likely talked about the possibility of playing together in Minnesota.
Considering the Vikings offense hasn’t been as explosive as they’d like and has struggled with consistency, Beckham’s name should be discussed at TCO Performance Center.
However, Wolfson revealed that’s about as far as Beckham has been considered in Minnesota — just chatter for now.
“Justin Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr. have a rock-solid relationship. Would Odell Beckham Jr. help the Vikings? If he’s healthy, undoubtedly. There are enough targets to go around,” Wolfson said. “What I know is as of right now there just isn’t any steam. If I were to bet Odell Beckham Jr. does not land here in Minnesota.”
Wolfson added that the Vikings do have a strong rapport with Beckham’s agent, who also represents Hunter.
Vikings Can Clear Cap Space for Beckham Jr.
Currently, the Vikings cannot afford Beckham, who signed a team-friendly $1.25 million deal to join the Rams late last season. Whether he would take a deal of similar stature is uncertain, but even that price tag is unaffordable right now in Minnesota.
The Vikings currently have $862,928 in cap space, which is under the veteran minimum that Beckham is entitled to as a ninth-year veteran.
Minnesota can create cap space by restructuring a few veteran contracts, most notably right tackle Brian O’Neill or Eric Kendricks that could shore up a few million dollars in cap space to make an offer for Beckham.