Vikings sign Kendall Wright, loading up the receiver corps led by Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs
The Vikings continued to adorn their offense with weapons for new quarterback Kirk Cousins on Friday, signing former Bears wideout Kendall Wright after his free agent visit began on Thursday.
Wright figures to join the team as a slot receiver who can pair with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs in the Vikings’ top three-receiver set. He caught 59 passes a year ago with the Bears, playing mostly in the slot, and had his best season in 2013 with the Titans, when he caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards.
The 28-year-old receiver had visited the Chiefs last week, before making a trip to Minnesota to meet with the Vikings. His addition comes a week after the team released Jarius Wright to clear salary cap space; Kendall Wright, who turns 29 in November, gives the team another weapon for new quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Fifty-one of Wright’s 82 targets came while he was lined up as a slot receiver last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He caught 41 of those passes in the slot with just one drop, good for an 80.4 catch rate that was the highest in the league from the position.
He ran a modest 4.61-second 40-yard dash coming out of college, and was targeted with only four passes of 20 yards or more last season, with one catch on those throws. If Wright can give the Vikings more production from the slot, though, he’ll make it harder for defenses to key on Diggs and Thielen, while adding another target for Cousins on the throws over the middle that new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo often saw his quarterbacks make in the Eagles’ offense.
With Dalvin Cook expected to participate in a sizable amount of the Vikings’ offseason program after recovering from knee surgery last October, the team’s skill position group around Cousins — Cook, Latavius Murray, Thielen, Diggs, Wright and Kyle Rudolph — should give the quarterback plenty of options. The Vikings, who tried to sign Jared Cook last year and were interested in former Eagles tight end Trey Burton this year, could add to the group with another receiving tight end in the draft.
Wright’s addition also means two of the Vikings’ young receivers — 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell and 2017 seventh-rounder Stacy Coley — will have to continue to fight for playing time.
Treadwell caught 20 passes a year ago, but profiles mostly as an outside receiver and could have to find a role in the offense in packages where the Vikings move Thielen or Diggs into the slot. Coley, who was active for four games last year, could get a chance to work as a slot receiver behind Wright, while competing for the Vikings’ kick return job.
The team also added former CFL standout and New-London Spicer product Brandon Zylstra in January.