$2 Million O’Connell Favorite Predicted as Vikings’ Top Breakout Player

Brandon Powell, Vikings

Getty Wide receiver Brandon Powell of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings appear to be in the market for a starting wide receiver, but there’s a good chance that player is already on the roster.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN predicted that Brandon Powell will prove the team’s biggest surprise this season by ascending into the position of slot wideout on a permanent basis following a career year in 2023.

“During the O’Connell era, the Vikings’ base offense has been 11 personnel, which generally means three receivers,” Seifert wrote on Wednesday, May 22. “So unless O’Connell is going to dramatically change that approach in his third season, there is a significant need for a third player to complement Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison in the receiving corps. Powell filled that role well last season when Jefferson missed time with a hamstring injury, and he has a strong chance to earn a more permanent role there in 2024.”

Powell hauled in 29 catches for 324 receiving yards and 1 TD last year, according to Pro Football Reference. He also returned a league-leading 37 punts for 289 total yards and an average of 7.8 yards per return.

If Powell can elevate to the position of third starting receiver following the departure of K.J. Osborn to the New England Patriots in free agency, he will offer the Vikings incredible value, as he is playing on a one-year deal for just $2 million.

Vikings Could Look to Free Agency, Hunter Renfrow to Fill Slot WR Role

Hunter Renfrow

GettyFormer Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.

Powell played for O’Connell when he ran the Los Angeles Rams offense in 2021. O’Connell became the Vikings head coach the following year and Powell landed in Minnesota in 2023.

The entire coaching staff are fans of Powell, per Alec Lewis of The Athletic. However, that doesn’t mean the team won’t seek a player to compete against him and the rest of the Vikings receivers who reside behind Jefferson and Addison on the depth chart.

“It still feels like the Vikings could add another receiver to the mix,” Lewis wrote on May 2. “[Jalen] Nailor has shown flashes, but injuries have gotten in the way of him getting an extensive opportunity. [Trent] Sherfield can block. And Powell is reliable; the coaching staff loves him.”

If the Vikings do dabble in free agency, former Las Vegas Raiders wideout Hunter Renfrow makes the most sense.

“After racking up 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021, [Renfrow] has totaled 585 receiving yards and two scores combined over the past two seasons,” ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote on May 10. “The Vikings brought in Trent Sherfield this offseason and could expand Brandon Powell’s role, but Renfrow has a much more productive season in his recent past than either player has had at any point during their respective careers. Renfrow would probably be competing with Powell for the third wideout and punt returner role in Minnesota, a battle he could win if given the opportunity.”

Vikings, Justin Jefferson Continue Protracted Negotiations on New Contract

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

GettyWide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings.

While Minnesota’s coaching staff will study the lower half of the depth chart to figure out who will play the No. 3 and 4 receiver roles this season, the front office will concern itself with a new contract for Jefferson.

The three-time Pro Bowler is a near lock to reset the market at the position with a record deal. The only questions that remain are how much it will pay him and when he will sign it.

Jefferson has been extension-eligible since last offseason, and the Vikings have undoubtedly cost themselves money by waiting to ink him to a new contract. In the interim, the NFL salary cap jumped around $30 million per team from 2023 to 2024, and arguably the best wideout in the league is going to take advantage of that financial development.

However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on May 21 that there is some “frustration” among Jefferson and his people as the organization continues to negotiate hard and drag its proverbial feet.

“I believe there’s frustration from the Jefferson camp. The Vikings have been playing games with Jefferson,” Florio said. “It’s very simple — if you want him, act accordingly. If you’re going to say he deserves to be paid like a top non-quarterback in the NFL, then pay him like a top non-quarterback in the NFL. You can’t try to placate everyone and say, ‘It’s all going to be fine, we’re going to take care of him,’ and then do nothing to take care of him and only put yourself in a tougher position — because it keeps getting more expensive. It’s ludicrous.”

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