Welcome On Board: Vikings Sign Former 1st-Round WR Ahead of 2024 Season…

With questions at wide receiver this offseason, the Minnesota Vikings have assured former first-round pick N’Keel Harry of their plans for the position in 2024.Harry signed a reserve/future contract with the Vikings on Jan. 8, putting the 26-year-old under team watch this offseason.

Harry was selected 32nd overall in the 2018 draft by the New England Patriots and was signed to the Vikings’ practice squad through the 2023 season. During training camp, he was under pressure to make the 53-man roster, but suffered a lower-body injury and was released before the final preseason game. The Vikings added Harry to their practice squad after the dust settled on the league’s 53-man roster. Appeared in nine games this season, mostly on special teams. In five seasons, Harry caught 64 passes for 714 yards and five touchdowns. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Harry is a reliable weapon in the red zone, offering excellent ability to make contested catches. He is one of 11 Vikings practice squad players signed to reserve/future contracts.Here is the full list:RB Miles GaskinV. Triston JacksonWR N’Kel HarryV. Sayre ThomasRB Dwayne McBrideCB Jo Juan WilliamsCB Jaylin WilliamsLB Abraham BowplanT Corey CronkG Henry BirdG Tyrese RobinsonSigning Harry would give the Vikings an option at receiver and a third receiver, K.J. Osborne. Osborne, a 2020 fifth-round pick, failed to score a touchdown as a rookie but has become a reliable option in games. Over the past three seasons, Osborne has averaged 52 catches, 615 receiving yards and five touchdowns. The wide receiver market has grown significantly in recent years, even for players who have yet to reach WR1 status. Despite entering the league at the age of 33, Adam Thielen signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Carolina Panthers this past offseason. Osborne is expected to have similar value in free agency. Spotrac has Osborne, who will sign a two-year, $15.1 million contract worth $7.5 million per season, ranked 38th among receivers entering 2024 free agency in March. It would be crazy for the Vikings to compete for such an offer, especially with Jordan Addison stepping into a WR2 role this offseason. The Vikings might be willing to pay a price to bring Osborne back, but in Osborne’s defense, his prospects in free agency are much better in terms of his expected role in other offenses and the compensation for that role. Looking inward, the Vikings could add a top player or draft prospect in the offseason to compete for the third receiver role behind Justin Jefferson and Addison.The Vikings wide receiver is considered one of the best receivers in the league, but the possibility of losing Osborne means a significant drop in production on the field. For two years, the team favored 2022 sixth-round pick Jalen Naylor. Naylor was a draft pick that wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell “pounded on the table” in pre-draft meetings. Naylor capped his rookie streak by catching three passes for 89 yards and a touchdown in a Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Naylor made his first start, going 4-of-5 for 62 yards in the meaningless season finale against the Chicago Bears. But in 2023, Naylor struggled to stay healthy and productive.Naylor suffered a foot injury during training camp but was named to the 53-man roster before being placed on injured reserve in September with a hamstring injury. Naylor returned from injured reserve and played in four games before entering concussion mode on Dec. 10 after suffering a hit against the Las Vegas Raiders.Naylor finished his sophomore season with three catches for 29 yards, a disappointing performance for a promising receiver. He was undersized in college and there were concerns about his durability, but with time in the NFL’s strength and conditioning program, Naylor hopes to continue to be a productive receiver in the Vikings’ offense.But Naylor should earn his spot next summer.

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