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Vikings 2022 Free Agency Outlook: Running Backs & Wide Receivers

EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL's New League Year is on the horizon.

It officially begins at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 16, which means the 2022 edition of free agency is also quickly approaching. will provide a position-by-position outlook of Minnesota's roster ahead of free agency, continuing with running backs and followed below by the wide receivers.

Here's a look at which Vikings are scheduled to become free agents, Minnesota's potential needs and notes on players from other teams that are set to become free agents.


Dalvin Cook, C.J. Ham, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu and A.J. Rose, Jr.

Cook is the star of this group. The three-time Pro Bowler will likely continue to be a key focal point of Minnesota's offense under new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell.

Cook has produced nearly 3,900 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns over the past three seasons to stamp himself as one of the league's best backs.

Ham is among the league's best fullbacks and was recently praised by O'Connell, who said he'd like to keep the fullback involved in his offensive scheme.

Mattison, a capable backup, is entering the fourth and final season of his rookie contract. Nwangwu was a special teams star as a rookie with two kickoff returns for scores and could be in line for more offensive snaps under O'Connell.

Rose spent nearly all of last season on the practice squad and was signed to a Reserve/Future contract in January.


Wayne Gallman (unrestricted free agent)

Gallman joined Minnesota for the final month of the 2021 season. He appeared in two games on special teams (10 total snaps).

He did not play on offense after spending the first portion of the season with Atlanta.

Jake Bargas (unrestricted free agent)

Bargas has spent the past two seasons on the practice squad after joining the team in 2020 as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina.

The fullback appeared in two total games in that span, one in each of the past two seasons.

View the best photos of Vikings RB Dalvin Cook from the 2021 season.


Running back likely isn't high on Minnesota's priority list ahead of free agency.

Cook is the workhorse here, while Mattison is the backup and Nwangwu offers a unique skill set with his blazing speed.

With the Vikings potentially transitioning to a more pass-oriented attack, this group should be fresh to continue putting up strong numbers in 2022. Also be on the lookout for the way O'Connell and Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips might use running backs as receiving options.

WHO'S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE?'s Gregg Rosenthal recently released his list of the top 101 potential free agents.

The following running backs are listed in order of their overall rankings: 49. Cordarrelle Patterson (listed as RB/WR), 60. James Conner, 67. Rashaad Penny, 70. Leonard Fournette, 71. Melvin Gordon and 86. Chase Edmonds.

This group of six fills up the back half of Rosenthal's list, as running back isn't viewed as the premium position it was a decade or so ago.

But this group all has starting experience and brings different skill sets to the table. Patterson is among the league's most versatile players, and the other five have started plenty of games in the league. If a team is looking for a veteran presence and solid production, this is the group to look at.


Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Dan Chisena, Bisi Johnson, Blake Proehl, Trishton Jackson and Myron Mitchell

Jefferson is a bona fide superstar, as he has taken the league by storm with 3,000-plus receiving yards and a pair of Second-Team All-Pro selections in his first two seasons.

Thielen is still impactful as a veteran, although he was banged up last season and ended the year on Injured Reserve.

Osborn took a step forward in 2021 — his second year in the league — with 50 catches for 655 yards and six scores.

And Smith-Marsette came on late, posting a 100-yard game in the season finale, one of six games he saw the field on offense as a rookie.

Chisena has spent the past two seasons as a special teamer, primarily playing gunner in punt coverage.

Johnson and Proehl missed the entire 2021 season due to knee injuries suffered in training camp. Johnson had 45 catches for 483 yards and three scores in his first two seasons in the league.

Mitchell and Jackson spent nearly all of last season on the practice squad.


Chad Beebe (unrestricted free agent)

Beebe has been a bit of an enigma in his four seasons in Minnesota. He's been among the standouts almost every offseason, but has dealt with injuries in all but one of those four years.

The 27-year-old was injured in training camp and missed the entire 2021 season. He has played in 20 career games in four seasons, including 14 in 2020.

Dede Westbrook (unrestricted free agent)

Westbrook generated some buzz when he joined the Vikings as a free agent in training camp, but produced limited results on offense in 2021.

He caught 10 passes for 68 yards with no scores this past season, primarily making an impact on special teams instead.

Westbrook handled 22 punt returns for 183 yards (8.3 average), with a long return of 45 yards. The former Jaguars fourth-round pick will turn 29 years old in November.

View the best photos of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson from the 2021 season.


At the moment, wide receiver doesn't seem like a pressing need for the Vikings, as Minnesota boasts of one of the strongest duos in that spot with solid depth behind them.

But if O'Connell wants to line up in 11-personnel (with three wide receivers) on a regular basis, then perhaps Minnesota looks to add a veteran here.

Jefferson and Thielen should continue putting up strong numbers, with Osborn and Smith-Marsette ready to complement those two.

But if three wide receivers are often on the field, that means a team really needs five or possibly six players who are capable of stepping up.

If a free agent option below isn't available, perhaps the Vikings address this position group at some point in the draft.

View the best photos of Vikings WR Adam Thielen from the 2021 season.

WHO'S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE?'s Gregg Rosenthal recently released his list of the top 101 potential free agents.

The following receivers are listed in order of their overall rankings: 1. Davante Adams, 2. Chris Godwin, 6. Mike Williams, 14. Allen Robinson, 18. Odell Beckham, Jr., 27. Michael Gallup, 41. Russell Gage, 43. JuJu Smith-Schuster, 47. Christian Kirk, 52. Will Fuller, 59. DJ Chark, 63. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and 84. Jamison Crowder.

This list features all types of wide receivers, beginning with Adams, who is on the short list of the top players at his position around the league. Godwin is also an elite player, and his high ranking likely shows how rare it is for a player of his caliber to reach free agency (and possibly that he'll be returning from a torn ACL).

The Vikings are familiar with multiple players here (Adams included), while Robinson and Valdes-Scantling have resided in the NFC North in recent years.

It's worth noting that some players listed above might be given the franchise tag, but the deadline for that is 3 p.m. (CT) today.