With training camp on the horizon, the Vikings have added a veteran receiver to their roster. Minnesota has signed former Jaguars wideout Dede Westbrook, according to multiple reports. Westbrook told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that he is “super excited” to join the Vikings, where he will be reunited with receiving coach Keenan McCardell. McCardell was the Jaguars’ receivers coach throughout Westbrook’s time in Jacksonville.
“Keenan’s like a father figure to me,” Westbrook told Tomasson, via Pro Football Talk. “I respect him and everything that he’s ever taught me and done for me.”
A fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft, Westbrook is nine months removed from suffering an ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2020 season. The injury apparently did not hinder Westbrook during his visit with the Vikings, one of several teams who reportedly expressed interest in signing him this offseason. The 49ers and Bengals reportedly had made contact with Westbrook’s representatives prior to him coming to Minnesota.
The 6-foot, 178-pound Westbrook caught 160 of 254 targets for 1,720 yards and nine touchdowns in 40 regular-season games with Jacksonville. During the 2018 and ’19 seasons, he caught a combined 132 passes for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns. As a rookie during the 2017 playoffs, Westbrook caught seven passes during the Jaguars’ run to the AFC Championship Game. Westbrook was also utilized on special teams in Jacksonville. He had 47 punt returns that included a 74-yard return for a score during the 2018 season.
Westbrook joins a solid Vikings receiving corps that includes two-time Pro Bowler Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, who earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie after recording an NFL rookie record 1,400 receiving yards. The Vikings’ depth chart at receiver also includes Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson and fifth-round pick Ihmir Smith-Marsette.