OBJ Makes Too Much Sense for Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are 5-1 and have the biggest division lead (2 games) in the NFL. Yet, their new offense under Kevin O’Connell has lacked the consistency and explosive plays many expected when he was hired in the offseason.
One surprising issue, for the Minnesota Vikings offense, has been the wide receivers’ inability to get open. When teams have slowed Justin Jefferson, the passing game has struggled to find rhythm.
Passing game struggles
Adam Thielen, for example, has been a great wide receiver for a long time. But NFL Next Gen Stats say he’s struggling to create separation from coverage, in his age-32 season. Thielen’s 2.4 average yards of separation ranks near the bottom of qualifying wide receivers in 2022 and, though he’s never really excelled in that category, is the worst of his career.
Justin Jefferson has a whopping 29.3% target share.— Rob Searles (@RobBob17) October 17, 2022
And Adam Thielen isn’t nearly as effective at age 32 — his 85.8 passer rating when targeted is second-worst on the team.
This is an Odell Beckham Jr tweet.#Skol pic.twitter.com/gdKqdAc1uV
NFL offenses, in general, are struggling to create explosive plays this season. Part of that is a new commitment by defenses to limit deep balls, instead daring offenses to methodically drive the field in order to score points. That is one part of what might be limiting KJ Osborn, who excels when the ball is being pushed down the field.
Odell Beckham Jr to the rescue?
And at 5-1, the Vikings are in a perfect position to add talent, where available and if necessary. Odell Beckham Jr, when bought in, is one of the best receivers in football. Pairing him with Justin Jefferson would create a hopeless coverage conundrum for defenses.
That’s why the Rams got so much better after they acquired OBJ in the middle of last season, one that ended in a Super Bowl title. Odell opened the field for Cooper Kupp, who won Super Bowl MVP, and made the 2021 Rams offense impossible to stop.
Why would OBJ come to Minnesota? Well, there are a couple of really, really interesting connections. Obviously, Vikings head coach, Kevin O’Connell, played a big part in the Rams’ Super Bowl run and knows Beckham Jr really well.
And you can’t tell me OBJ wouldn’t love playing opposite of his friend, “little brother” and fellow LSU alum, Justin Jefferson. Both Odell Beckham Jr and Jefferson have talked about how close they are and how much they respect each others’ games.
One problem that immediately presents itself, if the Minnesota Vikings want to get serious about bringing on Odell Beckham Jr, is a lack of cap space. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has just less than $1 million to play with and signing OBJ will cost a lot more than that.
Got thinking about this, as the #Vikings have about $973K in cap space, per NFLPA records.— Ben Goessling (@BenGoessling) October 11, 2022
Top cap hits on the Vikings' books:
1. Kirk Cousins: $31.4M
2. Dead money: $25.6M
3. Eric Kendricks: $13.5M
4. Danielle Hunter: $12.4M
5. Dalvin Cook: $11.9M
6. Adam Thielen: $11.7M
But the Vikings have a few options that would clear up space. Brian O’Neill, for example, has team-triggered money maneuvers that are built into his contract. According to Ben Goessling (Star Tribune), Kwesi can clear over $3 million in cap space by converting part of O’Neill’s guaranteed future salary into a signing bonus.
The star right tackle doesn’t have a say in the matter. The Vikings can initiate the restructure with nothing more than an email to notify O’Neill.
Goessling also mentioned (DT) Dalvin Tomlinson as a possible extension candidate. He’s 28 years old and becomes a free agent after the season. On top of that, the Vikings built void years into his deal so he’ll count against the cap in future years, whether he’s on roster or not.
What do the Vikings want or think they need?
So, it would take some maneuvering to make room for Odell Beckham Jr but doing so wouldn’t be difficult. Throw in those personal connections we talked about earlier, along with a 5-1 start to the season, and you’d think OBJ would be open to Minnesota as a possible landing spot.
The questions would surround how much the new coach and general manager think OBJ would add to the offense and whether they believe a boost in their WR core is necessary. Odell Beckham Jr is expected to be healthy and ready to take the field around Thanksgiving.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan