Wide receiver is a weird position for the Minnesota Vikings. They have the best wide receiver in the National Football League in Justin Jefferson, an emerging number two in Jordan Addison, and a lot of question marks after that.

The WR3 spot is quite the puzzle for the Vikings. They had a quality one in K.J. Osborn but decided he wasn't worth bringing back and he wound up in New England on a one-year, $4 million contract. In his place, we are looking at one of Brandon Powell, Trent Sherfield, Jalen Nailor or a handful of UDFAs. 

There isn't a lot of talent out there on the free-agent market, but there is one player the Vikings should take a look at.

Vikings should sign UFL Offensive Player of the Year Hakeem Butler

Coming out of Iowa State, Butler was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Some viewed him as the top wide receiver in that draft class due to his size and athleticism. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein had this to say about Butler, ranking him as a second-round player.

Big long-strider with exceptional length and good build-up speed to challenge cover corners and safeties down the field. Butler's unique play strength after the catch allows him to win contested deep balls and then plow through tackle attempts to create chunk plays and long touchdowns. His routes are basic and clunky and will limit how teams can use him. A greater concern will be those inconsistent hands that could turn quarterbacks against him unless he improves them. He's a work in progress, but the traits and potential are worth taking a shot.

The Arizona Cardinals picked him with the first pick in the fourth round and it looked to be a good player to pair with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. His 35 1/4" arms gives quarterbacks a large target to throw to with his incredible catch radius. 

Ultimately, Butler flamed out quickly in the NFL. He was placed n injured reserve in his rookie season and was waived in September of 2020. He did play in two games in 2020 with the Philadelphia Eagles but ended up getting waived. He also spent time with the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers but didn't play any games with them.

Butler was an All-XFL selection in 2023 and won the Offensive Player of the Year award in the first season after the XFL merged with the USFL. He was a major reason why the St. Louis Battlehawks made the playoffs this season, but they couldn't take the next step losing 25-15 to the San Antonio Brahmas.

In 2024, Butler caught 45 passes for 652 yards and five touchdowns. During the season, Butler showed growth in body control and creating space to work at the catch point in leading the UFL in receiving.

Does his success mean he deserves another chance in the NFL? It's a bet worth making. Head coach of the Brahmas Wade Phillips, who had just beaten Butler's Battlehawks, told him that he should be playing the NFL.

Butler has abnormal size and length for the position and showing growth at the position is important, as technique is just as important as athleticism. He also can be a beneficial blocker when you run 11 personnel, which is important in how the Vikings run their offense. If you can't maximize what you have, there won't be success.

This is a move the Vikings should make. It has merit for three main reasons:

  • Butler provides an element of size the wide receiver room doesn't have
  • There isn't a bona fide option at the current time and competition is good
  • The cost is advantageous at the league minimum

If it doesn't work out with Butler, he can return to the UFL again next year and give it a go. With the large group of players fighting for a roster spot, it's worth taking a shot on a player who has a unique skill set.

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2024-06-10T21:38:23Z dg43tfdfdgfd