Thanks to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd has been suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season.
After signing with the Vikings, Floyd violated the terms of his house arrest for failing several alcohol tests. Floyd claimed he was drinking kombucha tea and was unaware it contained alcohol. He will be eligible to return for the Vikings’ Week 5 matchup with the Chicago Bears on Oct. 9. During the suspension, Floyd is eligible to play and practice in the preseason.
The question now becomes: What does this mean for the remaining players at wide receiver?
It is a big opportunity for second-year wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell, to make his mark. After tallying just one catch for 15 yards last season, Treadwell is healthy and ready to push for the third wide receiver spot. Reports indicate Treadwell has taken a step forward this off-season. If that’s indeed the case, he can solidify himself as the third wide receiver before Floyd returns from suspension. It might make Floyd expendable when he returns from suspension in early October.
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Floyd might be a veteran security blanket for the time being until Treadwell shows he is ready to elevate his game to the next level.
It also provides several young players with an opportunity to latch onto a roster spot. Fifth round draft pick Rodney Adams is a candidate to return kicks and could make a quick impact in the receiving game. Draft pick Stacy Coley and second-year player Cayleb Jones also can loom large as well. If Coley or Jones have strong preseason campaigns, the Vikings may be forced to keep six wide receivers, which they have done in each of the last two seasons.
Coley, a seventh round pick out of Miami, ranked sixth in all-purpose yards at Miami. He was effective when isolated in space and made plays vertically because of his speed. Coley needs to become a more consistent route runner and develop more play strength against press coverage. If he can do that, he will translate well as an option out of the slot. It’s hard to imagine he could push Jarius Wright off the roster, but Coley has a very similar skill-set.
Cayleb Jones is a 6-foot-3 target with a large catch radius and above average ball skills. He was a red zone weapon at Arizona but needed overall polishing as a route runner. He doesn’t have much play speed, which makes his ability to get open even more important. If Coley can’t supplant Wright, Jones and Coley would battle for the final wide receiver spot in training camp and the preseason.
When Floyd returns, the Vikings can evaluate the performance of Laquon Treadwell and determine whether a veteran presence is immediately needed. If the coaches feel it’s necessary, Jones or Coley can jump to the practice squad to make room. If neither of those two step up in training camp, the Vikings can keep five wide receivers and add Floyd in October. Ultimately, the suspension of Floyd is an opportunity for several young players to prove their worth on the roster. How those players perform will dictate the decisions made at wide receiver in late August.