Even if the Minnesota Vikings sign quarterback Kirk Cousins, and even if they back up the Brink’s truck to do it, Rick Spielman will still have roster space to fill. Let’s take a break from all the quarterback speculation and focus on what the Vikings may do at the tight end spot when free agency opens next week.
The Vikings have their clear No. 1 receiving tight end in Kyle Rudolph, the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions. They have their rough-and-tumble/blocking specialist in David Morgan II who may or may not be an actual Viking.
What the team needs is someone in the middle of that contrast. Someone who is a better blocker than Rudolph and a better receiver than Morgan – a spot they tried to fill by selecting Bucky Hodges in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, and by signing Blake Bell after cutting Hodges at the end of the preseason.
Bell suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Panthers in Week 14 and had caught just three passes for 19 yards prior to that point. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings enter the tight end sweepstakes when free agency officially opens.
Enter Lawrence Burton III, better known as Trey.
The former undrafted free agent out of Florida is coming off a Super Bowl victory with the Eagles and a career-high five touchdown catches last season. Burton’s name will also forever live in history after the tight end threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles to help the Eagles win Super Bowl LII on a play dubbed “Philly Special.”
Burton is likely headed to the open market. He’s spent much of his career in the shadow of star tight end Zach Ertz and recently rejected an offer from his current team. Could a reunion with former Eagles quarterbacks coach and new Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo be enough to convince Burton to come back and play in the same stadium where he threw the most memorable touchdown pass of his career?
It would be great for the Vikings, but it could be a tough sell. Burton may very well be the most talented tight end on the free agent market and the Vikings will not be the only team interested in acquiring his services.
Additionally, if the Vikings do sign Cousins to the rumored monster deal everyone and their mother is talking about, every dollar negotiated will matter that much more. It’ll be tough to convince a kid coming off a Super Bowl win and looking for his first big contract to take less money and play behind Rudolph.
But if they can land him, it shores up another position and adds a ton of flexibility and athleticism to a roster primed to make another run in 2018.