Vikings Poised to Add Former $65 Million WR on Value Contract

Justin Jefferson, Vikings

Getty Wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after a penalty against the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game in January 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings need help at the wide receiver position and a quality name just hit the market.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Wednesday, February 22, that the Tennessee Titans cut wide receiver Robert Woods as a salary cap play, rendering him a free agent.

“Titans started the day about $25 million over the salary cap and, after today’s moves — releasing left tackle Taylor Lewan, wide receiver Robert Woods and kicker Randy Bullock — are now $4.23 million under the salary cap,” Schefter tweeted.

Vikings Can Rejuvenate Woods’ Career After Down Year With Titans

Robert Woods, Titans

GettyWide receiver Robert Woods, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, is pursued by defensive back Darnell Savage of the Green Bay Packers during a game at Lambeau Field on November 17, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Woods was scheduled to make $13.75 million in 2023 and was set to count more than $14.6 million against the Titans’ cap. Woods signed a four-year extension with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 worth $65 million in total.

The 30-year-old wideout should cost significantly less moving forward, as he enters his 11th NFL campaign and is coming off of a couple of down years. Woods put together three quality seasons between 2018-20, catching between 86-90 passes each year and eclipsing 1,100 yards receiving twice before just missing the 1,000-yard mark in 2020.

Woods also won a Super Bowl ring for his efforts with the Rams in 2021, though his season was cut short that year due to a torn ACL. He caught 45 passes for 556 yards and four touchdowns in nine games, which had him producing at a similar pace to his three previous campaigns prior to the injury.

Los Angeles dealt Woods to the Titans that offseason for a sixth-round pick, his trade value impacted somewhat due to the hefty contract he brought with him. Woods pulled down 53 catches for 527 yards and two touchdowns in 2022, per Pro Football Reference, though his more limited production can’t be attributed entirely to a downturn in his own play.

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill missed five games due to injury and put up his worst season since coming over to Tennessee from the Miami Dolphins. Rookie Malik Willis and career backup Joshua Dobbs split the other five starts, as Tennessee’s offense was run-heavy all season.

Woods Can Replace Adam Thielen’s Stats For Vikings at Lower Cost

Adam Thielen

GettyWide receiver Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings looks on from the sidelines during a game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Wide receiver is among the Vikings’ top needs this offseason, particularly if the team parts ways with Adam Thielen.

Thielen will be the second-most expensive player on the roster against the salary cap in 2023 at more than $19 million should Minnesota retain him. If the Vikings cut Thielen after June 1, they will save more than $13 million. The team was close to $24.5 million over its spending limit as of Wednesday, per Over the Cap.

The hometown fan favorite could remain on the squad in 2023 if he’s willing to take a significant pay cut, but it is next to impossible for the Vikings to justify retaining Thielen at his current number. He produced just 716 yards and six touchdowns on 70 catches last year and failed eclipsed the 75-yard mark in a single game.

While those numbers outpaced Woods’ production in Tennessee, Thielen did that work with a better quarterback in Kirk Cousins under center each game and with All-Pro Justin Jefferson lining up on the other side of the field on most snaps.

Woods is younger than Thielen by nearly two years, despite having played one more professional season. Whatever Woods’ price turns out to be, it will be significantly less than what Thielen is owed and an improved offensive scheme focused more on passing the ball with better personnel in Minnesota should bump Woods’ production up to at least a similar range as what Thielen accomplished last year.

The price for Woods could be driven up as other notable franchises are also looking for upgrades at the position during a year when the free agency class is thin — including the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns, just to name a few.

Even still, with what will likely be the richest wide receiver contract in NFL history coming Jefferson’s way via his upcoming extension, the price the Vikings would have to pay for Woods would be worth it considering both the savings he represents and the level of production he can provide.

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