Vikings Logical Fit for Ex-Packers Pass-Catcher, Favorite of Aaron Rodgers

Robert Tonyan Jr., Packers

Getty Tight end Robert Tonyan of the Green Bay Packers.

The Minnesota Vikings have a dynamic duo in the wide receiver room, but after that their roster of pass-catchers grows thin surprisingly quickly.

That evaluation won’t be entirely accurate forever, as it takes into account the injury to two-time Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson, which may persist several games into the upcoming regular season. But a hole undeniably exists at the slot receiver position, and without a healthy Hockenson on the depth chart, there’s something of a cavern in that regard in the tight ends room as well.

All of those facts bring the Vikings to late-stage free agency, where possible answers — or at least serviceable band-aids — may be found to patch up what ails the porous portions of the roster. One such player for Minnesota could be Robert Tonyan Jr., formerly of the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

Robert Tonyan Offers Vikings Better Pass-Catching TE Than Any Backup on Roster

GettyFormer Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan Jr.

Tonyan is a six-year NFL vet, playing his first five seasons in Green Bay alongside quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Though he never produced a monster campaign, Tonyan has been reliable when healthy.

He has appeared in 85 career games, including 24 starts. Over that span, Tonyan has caught 148 passes for 1,549 yards and 17 TDs. His best season, which came in 2020, resulted in 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 scores.

So while Tonyan isn’t a world-beater as a pass-catcher, the 30-year-old is more viable than any of the TEs behind Hockenson on the Vikings’ roster. The trio of Josh OliverJohnny Mundt and Nick Muse combined for just 39 catches, 385 receiving yards and 3 TDs last season, according to ESPN.

Beyond Tonyan’s numbers, Rodgers’ multiple endorsements of him before the quarterback departed Green Bay offer an indication of the type of player Minnesota would be getting.

“He’s really gifted. He has great hands, he’s a really intuitive route-runner. He’s got great instincts,” Rodgers said of Tonyan in September 2022. “He’s made a couple of plays in practice that are just different than what we’ve had from those other guys in his absence. And it’s no disrespect to those guys. It’s just that the level that he’s capable of playing at is at that Pro Bowl-caliber level.”

For the record, Tonyan has never been a Pro Bowler and any chance he had of achieving that level of success is likely behind him. But Minnesota doesn’t need a Pro Bowler, it just needs a serviceable replacement at a reasonable cost until Hockenson returns. Tonyan can provide that after earning just $2.65 million in his one campaign with the Bears last season.

Hunter Renfrow Could Be Answer to Vikings’ Need at WR3

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is being linked to the Dallas Cowboys

GettyFormer Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.

A longer-term need for the Vikings is a third receiver to start in the slot alongside All-Pro Justin Jefferson and standout 2023 rookie Jordan Addison. One player who could be an answer is free agent Hunter Renfrow, formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell made a case for Renfrow to the Vikings on May 14.

“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,” Barnwell wrote. “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.”

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