The Minnesota Vikings are going to be in the wide receiver business when NFL free agency kicks off here in about three weeks. At least, one would certainly hope that they would be. We've talked about whether or not the Vikings might get involved in the pursuit of some of the bigger names at the position that will be on the market, but the reality is that they'll probably continue doing things the way Rick Spielman has done them so far. That means looking for younger players that may or may not have hit their ceilings yet and that could still grow and develop a bit if they were to come to Minnesota.
A player that, in my opinion, definitely fits that description is Brandon Gibson of the St. Louis Rams. Gibson was actually drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Washington State. He was traded just before the 2009 trading deadline, along with a fifth-round draft pick, to the Rams for linebacker Will Witherspoon.
In Gibson's four NFL seasons, he's caught 174 passes for 2,090 yards and nine touchdowns. He was second on the Rams in receiving yards (691, seven yards behind team leader Chris Givens) and receiving touchdowns (five) this past season.
Our friends at Turf Show Times have this to say about Gibson:
Through four seasons, Gibson has two years with 600+ yards. It's not a huge total, but his age and flashes of talent, as well as the iffy circumstances surrounding his time in the Rams offense, will make him an interesting option for receiver needy teams.
So how much could Gibson command on the market? If I were his agent, my asking price would start along the lines of the four-year, $25.9 million deal the Chargers gave Robert Meachem (whoops). He had a similar level of production in his four years with the Saints, a team with a much more stable offense than the Rams had during Gibson's time in St. Louis.
Gibson probably would not get that much, but he could fetch something in the neighborhood of $3 million per season.
Sounds like exactly the sort of guy that Rick Spielman would be interested in, and at just about the right price, too.
ESPN.com (through the folks at Pro Football Focus) label Gibson as one of the best "under the radar free agents" that will be available this off-season.
While many often lament the poor quality of Sam Bradford's targets in St. Louis, there should be no denying Gibson is coming off an extremely good season. His 43 receptions for first downs or touchdowns were 35th among receivers, while only Rob Gronkowski turned a higher percentage of his targets into chain movers or six points than the Ram (57.3 percent).
Gibson is a guy who might not hurt you all over the field but is a solid and reliable weapon.
(Vikings guard Geoff Schwartz also appears on that "under the radar" list.)
Gibson will turn 26 in August, if you're scoring at home. I wouldn't be against a move like this one, since it appears that any free agent receiver the Vikings bring in will be complemented by a draft pick in the first couple of rounds.
What say you, ladies and gentlemen?