The Vikings have their No. 3 wide receiver. After working out at TCO Performance Center on Saturday, free agent Dede Westbrook will sign a one-year deal to join the Vikings, as first reported by ESPN's Josina Anderson. The financial details of the contract are not yet known.
Westbrook's familiarity with Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell played a major role in him signing with Minnesota. The two were together in Jacksonville for the last four seasons. Westbrook was scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Monday, but that won't be happening anymore. He's found his next NFL home.
After winning the Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football for Oklahoma in 2016, Westbrook fell to the fourth round of the draft due to off-the-field concerns. He's stayed out of trouble since entering the NFL and has been fairly productive, with back-to-back 66-catch seasons in 2018 and 2019. Westbrook's playing time had slipped early last season before he tore his ACL in October, ending his Jaguars career.
Per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, Westbrook says he's good to go nine months after the ACL injury. When asked if he'll be ready for the start of training camp next week, he told Tomasson "most definitely."
Westbrook immediately becomes the favorite to be the Vikings' third receiver behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. He'll have to beat out players like Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, and rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette, but his experience and skillset should make that a straightforward task. The 6-foot, 180-pound 27-year-old is a good separator out of the slot, has speed in the 4.3/4.4 range, and can make contested catches.
Another benefit for the Vikings is that Westbrook can be their new punt returner. The Vikings got nothing in that area last year, and Westbrook has been good at it throughout his career, including averaging 14 yards per return (highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown) in 2018.
This is another strong pickup in what has been a fantastic offseason for the Vikings. Most of their free agent signings have been on the defensive side of the ball, but adding Westbrook addresses one of their obvious weaknesses on offense. If the offensive line can take some strides forward, Kirk Cousins will have all of the weapons he needs to have a highly productive season. With Dalvin Cook, Jefferson, Thielen, multiple talented tight ends, and now Westbrook, this offense is loaded with skill-position talent.
Training camp begins next Wednesday.