Vikings Logical Landing Spot for Former $32 Million Wide Receiver

The Minnesota Vikings have a top-heavy wide receiver room and an injured tight end in T.J. Hockenson — in other words, a recipe to add a playmaker in the slot ahead of training camp.

Aaron Schatz of ESPN listed slot receiver as Minnesota’s most glaring roster hole following the NFL draft.

“Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison are an awesome team on the outside, but the Vikings’ receiving corps really falls off after those two,” Schatz wrote on May 9. “Brandon Powell is likely the starting slot receiver. He did manage an average DVOA on 44 targets in 2023, but his 324 receiving yards represented a career high after six years in the league. Trent Sherfield caught just 11 passes in Buffalo last season. Jalen Nailor has just 12 catches in two years for Minnesota. There are a lot of unknown names on this depth chart, and the Vikings would be the perfect team to give a call to an unsigned free agent.”

The list of available wideouts who fit the bill isn’t exceedingly long, given that free agency began over two months ago. However, the market puts Minnesota in position to find a one- or two-year option at value, and Hunter Renfrow fits the bill.

Hunter Renfrow Has Struggled Since Pro Bowl Season in 2021

Las Vegas Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow is being linked to the San Francisco 49ers

Formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders, Renfrow’s stock was at an all-time high following the 2021 campaign. He hauled in 103 catches for 1,038 yards and 9 TDs that season, earning his first — and only — Pro Bowl nod.

Then Josh McDaniels arrived to replace disgraced head coach Jon Gruden, and the wheels began to come off of Renfrow’s career. The wideout inked a two-year, $32 million extension in June 2022, though his production fell off a cliff that season, in no small part because of injury.

Renfrow finished the year with only 10 games played and one start, tallying 36 receptions for 330 yards and 2 scores. He appeared in all 17 regular-season contests in 2023, starting three games, though his numbers dropped again to 25 catches for 255 yards. The end zone also eluded Renfrow last season for the first time in his five-year NFL career.

Injury to Vikings’ T.J. Hockenson May Provide More Chances for Player Like Hunter Renfrow

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

The Raiders released the 28-year-old wideout in March, opening up just north of $8.2 million in salary cap space in the process. Understandably, no team leapt at the chance to sign a player whose production trajectory has been in severe decline over the past two campaigns as he inches closer to the age of 30.

However, Renfrow represents potential for the kind of reclamation project that proves itself successful time and again in the NFL. Once a serious talent, Renfrow is more than capable of assuming the slot role in Minnesota as WR3 alongside the super-talented duo of Jefferson and Addison.

Moreover, the Vikings should be able to sign Renfrow to a team-friendly deal, creating the type of low-risk/high-reward scenario teams love. Renfrow could refresh his career via favorable matchups created by the headaches Jefferson and Addison will cause for opposing defenses.

Hockenson continues to rehabilitate a severe knee injury he suffered in Week 16 last season and could easily miss the start of the 2024 season. Even when the two-time Pro Bowl tight end returns, Renfrow will have value as the fourth option in a passing game that will be captained by a new quarterback following the departure of Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency — either Sam Darnold, rookie J.J. McCarthy or a combination of both.

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