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2023 Vikings Position Recap: Receivers

EAGAN, Minn. — The 2023 season for Vikings receivers started and ended emphatically with Justin Jefferson.

The phenom racked up 458 yards through Minnesota's first three games of the season and closed with 392 yards in the Vikings final three contests.

Despite the prolific yardage by one of the sport's biggest stars, the Vikings were 0-6 in those games.

A hamstring injury in Week 5 cost Jefferson the next seven games, creating the need for others — rookie Jordan Addison, fourth-year Viking K.J. Osborn and veteran newcomer Brandon Powell — to produce.

Addison had a stellar and historic debut season, and Osborn's numbers were in the same ballpark as the previous two seasons, despite constant churn at the quarterback position after Kirk Cousins was lost to an Achilles injury in Week 8.

Powell posted career bests in receptions, yards and catches earning first downs, with 17 of his 29 receptions moving the chains and another going for his first touchdown since 2020. The thrilling score provided the game-winner at Atlanta in Week 9 — Minnesota's only comeback, game-winning drive of the season.

Second-year pro Jalen Nailor was affected by multiple injuries, a run of health hurdles that began in training camp. Trishton Jackson made it into the lineup in the first seven games of his career and had an important catch on a 2-point conversion pass from Joshua Dobbs against the Falcons.

View the best photos of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, Brandon Powell, Trishton Jackson and Jalen Nailor during the 2023 season.

Notable Numbers

1,074 — yards for Jefferson, giving him his fourth consecutive season with a four-digit tally

Even though Jefferson only played in 10 games, he tied Jake Reed (1994-97) for the third-longest streak in franchise history. Only Hall of Famers Cris Carter (eight from 1993-2000) and Randy Moss (six from 1998-2003) have longer streaks in Vikings history.

11 — career games with 150-plus receiving yards by Jefferson, which is an NFL record through a player's first four seasons

Jefferson also has the NFL record for most 100-yard games in a player's first four seasons (29, which topped 23 by Moss).

10 — receiving touchdowns for Addison, which tied for fourth among all players in the NFL in 2023

Addison tied Sammy White (1976) for the second most receiving touchdowns by a rookie in franchise history. Only Moss (17 in 1998) recorded more in his first pro season with the Vikings.

70 — receptions by Addison, which ranks second among Vikings rookies all-time

Addison passed Moss (69 in 1998) in Minnesota's finale. Only Jefferson (88 in 2020) caught more.

Regular-Season Statistics


The Highest High

The Vikings were heavy home underdogs against the 49ers in Week 7, but a top-flight night by Minnesota's entire offense (without Jefferson) led to a 22-17 victory that was one of just two conference losses by a San Francisco team that finished as the NFC's No. 1 seed.

Much like Jefferson and Moss, Addison introduced himself to the national stage with seven catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns, including a massive, 60-yard score with seven seconds remaining in the first half.

Powell added 64 yards on four catches, Osborn caught five passes for 47 yards and Jackson also added a 7-yard reception.

Vikings receivers totaled 17 catches for 241 yards on 22 targets, averaging 14.2 yards per reception and generating a receiver rating of 123.5.

The Vikings earned 18 first downs by throwing the football (includes the two touchdown catches by Addison), helping Minnesota record its highest third-down percentage of the season (61.5 percent) and possess the football for 34:56.

The Lowest Low

A little more than a month later, Minnesota was back on Monday Night Football but fell 12-10 at home to Chicago.

Still without Jefferson, and now with Dobbs making his third start, the passing game was out of sync all night.

Receivers totaled 12 catches for 118 yards on 17 targets with no touchdowns. Making matters worse, three of the night's four interceptions occurred on passes targeting Vikings receivers, including a hot pass that bounced off Addison and into harm's way, as well as one that did not lead Osborn enough and again was deflected to a Bear.

Dobbs' passer rating when targeting receivers was 50.3, which was lower than his 54.3 for the game.

True, multiple factors can impact any snap, but there just weren't enough plays made by Minnesota's receivers to secure a very winnable game.

2 Pressing Questions for 2024

  1. What happens with Jefferson's contract?

It seems like some have been talking about Jefferson's second contract before his second pro season even ended. Minnesota exercised its fifth-year option to cover Jefferson through the 2024 season.

After that, the Vikings could exercise the franchise tag, but that can become quite expensive at the receiver position without long-term benefits for the club or player.

Minnesota's leaders have noted good dialogue with Jefferson's representatives.

The Vikings have been working themselves down from the brink of the salary cap, a multiyear process. A deal with Jefferson might enable the team to create some flexibility under the cap going forward.

  1. What if Osborn does not return?

A draft classmate of Jefferson, Osborn is poised to hit free agency for the first time in his career. During locker room cleanouts on Jan. 8, Osborn expressed appreciation for being a Viking, as well as the opportunity ahead to boost his earnings.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell has been complimentary of Osborn's ability to handle the different positions in Minnesota's offense, providing key versatility when an injury occurs or the opportunity to flip things on a defense to help scheme open another Viking.

Powell also is eligible for free agency, but his deep experience with the system, O'Connell and other assistants, could help if he's asked for an even bigger role on offense.

Nailor hopes to bounce back in his third pro season, but this year's health setbacks prevented a leap forward.