Vikings position outlook: Wide receivers

MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing our position-by-position look at the Vikings' roster this morning, with a glimpse at the team's wide receiver situation.


2015 free agents: None

The good: The Vikings got production from unexpected places in 2014, which might mean they have a quarterback good enough to succeed with whatever is around him. Even if the Vikings lacked a top playmaker in 2014, they've got to like how a group of young receivers meshed with Teddy Bridgewater. Jarius Wright blossomed in Year 3, setting career highs for catches and yards, and Charles Johnson went from the Cleveland Browns' practice squad to the Vikings' starting split end spot. Even Minnesota State product Adam Thielen got into the mix with a 44-yard TD in the season finale, and Greg Jennings had one of his best stretches in a Vikings uniform, catching 30 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns during the second half of the season.

The bad: Cordarrelle Patterson's second year in Minnesota was a significant disappointment. The rookie caught just 33 passes for 384 yards, fell out of the starting lineup in the second half of the season and was on the bench in the season finale after dropping a pass that turned into an interception. He's facing a pivotal year in 2015, with a decision looming next spring about his fifth-year option. And it's forgotten now, but another scrape with the law led the Vikings to release Jerome Simpson, who might have been a solid No. 3 receiver. Then again, Simpson's release is what led them to pick up Johnson.

The money -- 2015 salary-cap numbers: Jennings ($11 million), Patterson ($1.97 million), Wright ($1.68 million), Johnson ($510,000), Thielen ($510,000). There probably isn't much reason to expect a great deal of turnover with this group, but Jennings' contract number sticks out. The Vikings would save $6 million by cutting him, and that number jumps to $9 million after June 1. While Jennings looked like a valuable piece of the offense at the end of the season, his cap figure and his age (he'll be 32 in September) probably gives the Vikings enough leverage to renegotiate his deal. In the final year of his rookie deal, Wright earned a nice raise through the NFL's performance pay escalator clause.

Draft priority: Medium. If Patterson (or perhaps Johnson) turns into a true No. 1 receiver, there's not much problem here. But the feeling in some circles is that Patterson might be best used as a gadget player, which might leave the Vikings in the market for a true split end. With the 11th pick in the draft, could a reunion between Bridgewater and former Louisville teammate DeVante Parker be in the cards (see what we did there)?