Monday Morning Mailbag Extra: A Look At The WR Position

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 20, 2011 – 9:01 am

One of the questions in this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag dealt with WR Sidney Rice and what the Vikings plan will be if Rice leaves via free agency. The answer in the mailbag was pretty lengthy, but after thinking about it some more I think there is even more we can add to the topic.

So we’ll use a blog entry to add those thoughts.

I think it’s important to first make it clear that retaining Rice is the optimal outcome, whether it’s via a 1-year restricted free agency tender or a long-term contract extension. It’s fair to question whether Rice will be a franchise-caliber WR, largely because of some injury problems he’s experienced. Ultimately, though, you have to look at the career year he had in 2009 (83 receptions, 1,312 yards, 8 TDs, Pro Bowl) and how the offense struggled in 2010 while he was sidelined with an injury. In addition, I’d point out that Rice has the skill set (wide catch radius, above average size and body control) that will provide a reliable target for a young, inexperienced QB (Christian Ponder/Joe Webb) to succeed.

With that said, the point of the question in this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag was to discuss alternative options for the Vikings if Rice were to sign with another team. In my original answer, I explained that several young WRs already on the roster would have an opportunity to step up in Rice’s absence and that the following potential free agents might represent potential options for the Vikings: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Vincent Jackson and James Jones.

After giving it some more though, though, I’ve come up with a few other options the Vikings could consider if they’re in the market for a WR. I’ll list a few guys, and then provide a brief thought about how/why they’d fit with the Vikings…

Plaxico Burress: He’s been off the NFL radar for the past 2 seasons because he was sentenced to prison following an incident where a gun he was carrying discharged into his leg at a nightclub in New York. Burress was one of the NFL’s best WRs when the incident occurred, but now he’s 2 years removed from his last game and he’s going to be 34 years old when the 2011 NFL season begins. A veteran on the wrong side of 30 with a prison sentence stemming from a gun incident doesn’t sound exactly like the type of player Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman are looking for, but keep in mind that Burress will be working with Tony Dungy – a friend of Frazier’s – in much the same way that Michael Vick worked with Dungy. That worked out pretty well for the Eagles. This is a tough one to call, but it’ll be interesting to see which teams pursue Burress.

Chad Ochocinco: It’s tough to know what Ochocinco’s contractual status will be with the Cincinnati Bengals once the work stoppage concludes, but suffice it to say that he could be an unrestricted free agent as the franchise appears to moving on. They drafted a franchise QB in Andy Dalton, presumably because they know Carson Palmer won’t be with them in the future. A similar plan could be in place for Ochocinco, meaning he’ll hit the open market. There’s no denying Ochocinco’s great productivity in the past. But he, like Burress, is on the wrong side of 30 (he’s 33) and you have to wonder if younger WRs will appeal to the Vikings more.

Steve Smith (Carolina): Much like Ochocinco, Smith has been an extremely productive WR who has experienced plenty of ups and downs with his current team. And much like Ochocinco, Smith might be an option for teams who don’t mind a WR in his early 30s (he just turned 32). Smith is a tremendous deep threat because of his speed but also because of his uncanny ability to win jump balls despite being undersized (5-9, 185 pounds).

Those are just a few more options that could be available for the Vikings if they were to pursue a WR in free agency and if Rice were to sign elsewhere. What do you think Vikings fans? Do any of those options appeal to you? If not, who else is out there?

Let us know what you think by posting a comment in the comments section below this entry.

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