Vikings sign former Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook

Westbrook worked out for the Vikings on Saturday, and it seems they saw enough to bring him on.

After a long offseason of waiting, former Jacksonville receiver Dede Westbrook has finally found a new home. The fifth-year player is signing with the Minnesota Vikings, his agency announced on Twitter Sunday.

The terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but according to Josina Anderson, it’s a one-year deal.

A former Biletnikoff Award winner for the best receiver in college football, Westbrook was taken in the fourth round by the Jaguars back in 2017. A bit undersized for an NFL receiver, Westbrook dealt with injuries as a rookie but appeared in all 16 games during his second season, making nine starts. That was the most productive year of his career, as he finished with 63 catches for 707 yards and five touchdowns.

Westbrook’s production dipped after that, though, and he entered the 2020 season as the No. 4 receiver on the depth chart. He appeared in just two games, making one catch for four yards, before he was placed on the injured reserve in Week 7 after suffering a torn ACL.

With his rookie deal expiring, Jacksonville chose to let him walk, and he went unsigned during the initial free agency period back in March. The Vikings worked Westbrook out on Saturday, one of several teams to show interest in him. It seems Minnesota saw enough to bring in the fifth-year player who is still on the road to recovery from knee surgery.

He joins a talented receiver group that includes Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, but he’ll hope for some success with more consistency at quarterback than he had with the Jags.

Former Jags WR Dede Westbrook to work out for Vikings Saturday, expected to visit Seahawks Sunday

Former Jags receiver Dede Westbrook appears to be fully recovered from the ACL tear he sustained last season.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook appears to be fully recovered from the ACL tear he sustained last season and will begin making stops to find a new team this weekend. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he’ll be working out for the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, then afterward, he’ll be making a trip to Seattle to meet with the Seahawks on Sunday, according to NFL reporter Josina Anderson.

Westbrook’s meeting with the Vikings makes sense because former Jags receivers coach Keenan McCardell now has the same title with Minnesota. And though the group is led by Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, the team seems to believe there could be room for some speed at the position. They could also be looking at him for help on special teams as Westbrook has return experience, too (47 punt returns for 461 yards and a touchdown).

Westbrook was drafted by the Jags in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Throughout his tenure, he was decently productive in Duval accumulating 160 catches for 1,720 career receiving yards and nine touchdowns. His career-high came in 2017 when he accumulated 66 catches for 717 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

If Westbrook doesn’t sign with either team, there could be other opportunities on the table as Anderson reported that players from the Kansas City Chiefs reached out to him about potentially signing back in May. Anderson reported that the Cincinnati Bengals also had preliminary conversations with Westbrook.

Report: 49ers interested another former Jags WR

The 49ers gave Marqise Lee a brief look, now they are looking at another former Jags receiver.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have drafted their share of receivers over the last five years and some have worked out, while others haven’t. One of those who has been the most puzzling to figure out is former receiver Dede Westbrook, who saw a significant decline in play time last season and ended his time with the Jags with an unfortunate ACL injury Week 7 against Los Angeles.

However, since free agency has started, Westbrook has received a good amount of interest, and once late June arrives, he’ll be eight months removed from his injury. Earlier in the month it was revealed that the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings all had some type of interest, but it appears another team has joined the mix. That team is the San Francisco 49ers, who’ve seeming been looking at help at receiver this offseason, and recently signed former Jags Marqise Lee for a brief period.

With the most significant part of free agency over with, it makes sense that teams would start taking chances on a player like Westbrook, who is coming off a significant injury, but has proven to be a playmaker on occasions. Bright offensive minds like Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid could especially give Westbrook a chance at a resurgence, and as the season gets closer, it appears he’ll have a decision to make.

Westbrook will enter the season with 160 catches for 1,720 career receiving yards and nine touchdowns. His best season came in 2017, where he was able to haul in 66 catches for 717 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He also could help a team as a returner with 47 punt returns for 461 yards and a touchdown to his name.

Report: Former Jags WR Dede Westbrook drawing interest

The former Jaguars receiver has reportedly been in contact with players from the Chiefs, as well as with the Bengals and Vikings.

The Jacksonville Jaguars made the decision this offseason not to extend the contract of receiver Dede Westbrook, and though he remains a free agent and didn’t receive a deal during the initial free agency rush, there seems to be some interest now.

According to a report from Josina Anderson, players with the Kansas City Chiefs have reached out to Westbrook to gauge his interest in joining the team. Additionally, the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals have shown interest in Westbrook, as well.

The Jags’ fourth-round pick in 2017, he surpassed 650 yards receiving in 2018 and 2019. But with the emergence of D.J. Chark (and Laviska Shenault in 2020), Westbrook saw his targets decline. He entered the 2020 season fourth on the depth chart, but a torn ACL landed him on the injured reserve list after Week 7. In the seven games he did appear in, he made just one grab for four yards.

Ignoring his injured season, Westbrook was decently productive for Jacksonville, and it’s hard to believe the 27-year-old won’t get another shot. Landing with a contender like the Kansas City Chiefs may just bury him within a deep group when considering their talent, but a team like the Cincinnati Bengals still may have some space for him.

Westbrook was a standout for Oklahoma in college, winning the Biletnikoff Award for the best pass-catcher in college football his final season with the Sooners. Despite being a bit undersized at 6-foot, he’s been too productive in the NFL to not be on a roster at this point.

Report: Jags fear that WR Dede Westbrook has a torn ACL

The Jags may be without one of their most experienced players for the year as there are concerns that Dede Westbrook tore his ACL.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport provided an update on the knee injury that Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook sustained Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, and unfortunately, it’s not looking good. Per Rapoport, the Jags fear that Westbrook tore his ACL, which would end his 2020 season.

Westbrook sustained the injury after trying to return a kickoff in the third quarter of Sunday’s game. It appears to have happened as he was trying to make a cut before being tackled by Chargers linebacker Emeke Egbule.

Westbrook remained on the turf after the hit and was being attended to by some Jags trainers once the broadcast returned from the commercial break. Announcer Andrew Catalon informed the viewers that the replay revealed a graphic injury which they wouldn’t show again. After another commercial break the trainers were able to get Westbrook on a cart where he was taken to the back for evaluations.

Westbrook finished Sunday with four kickoff returns for 89 yards and also returned a punt for 36 yards. In the kickoff prior to the one where he sustained the injury, Westbrook had a fumble, however, the staff felt good enough to keep him in the game for more returns.

Westbrook was one of Gardner Minshew’s favorite targets last season, but the emergence of players like rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. and Keelan Cole caused him to be inactive on various occasions in 2020. However, with rookie Chris Claybrooks struggling with returns, the staff decided they wanted a proven player handling their important special teams role and decided to get Westbrook more involved.

Once the information about Westbrook’s MRI are disclosed, we’ll have more on his situation.

Takeaways from Day 3 of Jags training camp: Gardner Minshew, WRs impress

The Jacksonville Jaguars took the field for what is being considered Day 3 of training camp Friday and it was an eventful one. The team finally moved into some offense vs. defense drills through 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Here are some takeaways …

The Jacksonville Jaguars took the field for what is being considered Day 3 of training camp Friday and it was an eventful one. The team finally moved into some offense vs. defense drills through 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

Here are some takeaways those who were able to attend the session came away with as the Jags inched closer to padded practices:

Gardner Minshew and his receivers start on a high note

First and foremost, it was a great day for Gardner Minshew II and his receivers. He particularly had a good day connecting with D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault Jr. However, Minshew’s pass of the day went to Dede Westbrook, who split linebacker Joe Schobert and safety Jarrod Wilson with a post route.

On the very next play, Minshew hit Chark with a bomb down the sidelines.

CJ Henderson flashed why he was a top-10 pick

Sure, it’s early in the process and the offense and defense have only seen reps against each other once in training camp, but CJ Henderson looked to be on a mission. The former Gators cornerback who was the No. 9 overall pick from April’s draft was sticky in coverage and fluid in terms of movement, catching the attention of all media members in attendance.

After losing shutdown corner Jalen Ramsey and a solid veteran in A.J. Bouye, the Jags are going to need Henderson to hold his own coming out of the gate in the regular season. So far, all of the traits he was praised for on film are showing up and it will be interesting to see if his performance from Friday translates to when the pads go on Monday.

Other notes and tidbits

  • With running back Ryquell Armstead still on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, it’s opened up the opportunity for others to step up behind Leonard Fournette and Chris Thompson. First Coast News’ Mia O’Brien singled out Devine Ozigbo and undrafted rookie James Robinson for showcasing their speed and agility. Robinson specifically is a player we’ve banged the table for at Jags Wire as he was a prospect who had a draftable grade on him back in May.
  • Before practice, defensive coordinator Todd Wash met with the media. Among the notable players, he discussed were rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, Josh Allen, the linebacking corps as a whole, and more.

  • After practice, both Shenault and Wilson met with the media to discuss training camp so far. Wilson also discussed the severity of COVID-19 and shared an important message about wearing a mask.


Podcast: Which Jags free-agents could re-sign in 2021?

The Jags’ 2021 free-agency class is full of receivers including Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley. Who could they end up keeping though?

With the football season slowly approaching, Jags Wire contributor Phil Smith and I recorded yet another episode of the “Bleav in Jags Podcast.”

We started this week’s episode off discussing the latest in preseason and training camp news as the league announced that the preseason would be cut in half. Additionally, we discussed the contract signing of DaVon Hamilton and where he fits in the Jaguars plans heading forward.

Afterward, we discussed the latest on defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who reportedly hasn’t changed his stance about wanting to be traded. With the deadline coming up, we also discussed the possibility of trading him to the Cleveland Browns for David Njoku as proposed by ESPN recently.

Lastly, we tackled our main topic, which was a preview of the Jags’ 2021 free-agency class. With several notable names on the list, we gave our analysis on who could stay or go with notables like Leonard Fournette, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and more on the last years of their deals.

Feel free to listen to the archived episodes of “Bleav in the Jags,”too, and subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify.

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Jags depth chart prediction: Wide receiver

The Jags receiving corps got stronger after the draft and there is a lot that needs to be sorted out behind star D.J. Chark.

Earlier in the week, we started our depth chart projections for the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends all covered, here are our projections for the wide receivers position:

Projections to make the final 53-man roster

Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

WR1: D.J. Chark Jr.

D.J. Chark was the most improved player on the Jags’ roster without a doubt. He also proved to be their top receiver, becoming the first receiver since Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns (2015) to garner 1,000 receiving yards.

It didn’t matter who the quarterback was, Chark shined and received a Pro Bowl nod after making highlights after highlights. The crazy part is that he’s just scratching the surface and is only 23 years old.

WR2: Chris Conley

Chris Conley was one of the Jags’ veteran additions during the 2019 free-agency period and will enter 2020 as the Jags’ most experienced receiver as a sixth-year player. He had some issues with drops in 2019 but still managed to register 47 catches for 775 yards and five touchdowns.

As a new offensive coordinator to the Jags’ organization, Conley is a player I think Jay Gruden will be more than comfortable with as the No. 2 alongside Chark. However, it wouldn’t shock me if Laviska Shenalt received a lot of looks as the No. 2, too, but health is a concern with him and he’s also extremely raw.

WR3 (slot starter): Dede Westbrook

The Jags will roll out a lot of multiple receiver sets under Gruden and one can understand why when looking at the potential they have. Gruden has also been known to get a lot of production from the slot and that became clear when looking at the success of Jamison Crowder, who registered 221 passes for 2,628 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns throughout four seasons with Gruden and the Washington Redskins.

Westbrook is just as talented as Crowder and could serve the same role for Gruden’s offense in Jacksonville. After all, it’s where he’s flourished and his 2018 season is proof of that as all five of his touchdowns came from the slot.

WR4: Laviska Shenault Jr.

He was the Jags’ second-round addition of April’s draft and they have big-time plans for him. Shenault was extremely versatile while with Colorado playing as an exterior receiver, a slot receiver, running back, H-back, and as a wildcat quarterback.

Jags coach Doug Marrone says he’s already asked Shenault what kind of load he’s willing to take as a versatile weapon and the rookie is up for the challenge. That said, look for the Jags to be creative with Shenault while working him in slowly as an exterior receiver.

WR5: Keelan Cole

Having Keelan Cole as a No. 4 to No. 5 receiver on this roster is proof that the Jags at least have depth at receiver though the results may not be completely what fans want. He’ll enter the season with 1,600 career receiving yards, a 15.4 yard per catch average, and seven touchdowns.

With the depth chart now crowded Cole may have to see a lot of time on the field through special teams. It might be even wise to consider him in a returners role to protect the receivers further up the depth chart from injuries.

WR6: Collin Johnson

Collin Johnson was the second receiver drafted by the Jags in April’s draft as the team took him in the fifth round. At 6-foot-6, 222-pounds, there is a lot to be excited about with Johnson as he gives the Jags a massive jump-ball target to help Gardner Minshew II out.

There are questions as to if Johnson will be able to separate on the next level and he’ll also need to improve with breaking/sinking into his routes. However, if there is any receivers coach who could turn him into a solid pro it’s the Jags’ own Keenan McCardell.

4 players from the Jags offense who could take a step forward

With the additions made to the Jags’ roster, Cam Robinson is just one of several offensive guys who could make tremendous strides in 2020.

The Jacksonville Jaguars as a whole must improve as 2018-19 has left fans beyond disappointed. If they are to make progress, their offense especially will need to make strides because we’re now at a day and age where the most successful teams are the ones that put up a lot of points.

After finishing 26th offensively last season (with an average of 18.8 points per game), the front office knew adjustments had to be made, and while they catered to the offense more, they certainly didn’t leave the defense hanging. Now, it will be a matter of putting it all together during the offseason and preseason, then letting their work speak in the regular season.

The new acquisitions made to the team shouldn’t only help the Jags improve offensively, but they should also help some of the key players from the 2019 unit get better, too. Here are four names we think will take a step forward in 2020 thanks to the additions made by the front office:

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

QB Gardner Minshew II

While the Jags didn’t add a starter on the offensive line for Gardner Minshew II (unless Ben Bartch replaces someone), he could still take a big step forward. The reason for that is because the Jags might be right to gamble on the offensive line taking a step forward after spending a lot of investments into the unit.

The other key reason Minshew could flourish is because of the pass-catching options the Jags added. Granted he will have to stay healthy, Laviska Shenault Jr. could be a solid No. 2 receiver who alleviates the pressure off of Pro Bowler D.J. Chark Jr.

The other key pass-catchers that will be added into the mix are tight ends Tyler Eifert, who also needs to stay healthy, Josh Oliver, and James O’Shaughnessy. Eifert, a former Pro Bowler, knows the system better than anyone at the moment as he played under coordinator Jay Gruden in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, O’Shaughnessy was Minshew’s favorite target early in the 2019 season before going on injured reserve, while Oliver built a strong bond with him in training camp. If they can pick up where they left off, it would be huge for the second-year quarterback.

The bigger question is rather or not the progress Minshew makes is significant enough to prevent the Jags from taking a quarterback early next year. In a recent episode of the “Bleav in Jags” podcast, I personally said Minshew needs to look like a top-12 quarterback or better to prevent the Jags from finding another starter.

If he doesn’t and the Jags find themselves in the top-10 of the draft order again, they definitely should explore options in the draft. If he does, and they are still in the top-10, picks it would probably be better if they continued forward with him and spent their draft pick elsewhere.

Watch: Highlights from Jaguars’ 38-20 victory over Colts

Revisit the highlights from the Jaguars’ final game of the decade as they defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38-20.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are heading into the offseason on a high note with a decisive 38-20 win over their AFC South rivals: the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars had a disappointing season in 2019, but Gardner Minshew and company decided to make one last statement as the team rallied in the second half to upset the 7-8 Colts.

Lets revisit the highlights for the final game of the decade:

The game started out in favor of the Colts as they quickly struck first with a field goal, but Jaguars’ kicker Josh Lambo quickly answered with one of his own. After a Colts touchdown and a second Jaguars field goal from Lambo, the Jaguars found the end zone on a 14-yard pitch and catch from Gardner Minshew to Keelan Cole.

The Colts quickly rallied to score 10 more points, retaking the lead 20-13. However, after that point, it was all Duval. Jacksonville fired back with a bomb of a kick from Lambo, nailing a 56-yard field goal to end the half, still trailing 20-16. We all need a hero, and for Jacksonville, no player has answered that call more so than Lambo.

In the second half, Jacksonville started right where they left off and never let off the gas pedal. With Fournette out with the flu, back-up halfback Ryquell Armstead stepped up and filled the void admirably. In the third quarter, Armstead helped Jacksonville retake the lead catching a 3-yard touchdown from Minshew.

After taking a 24-20 lead, the Jaguars pinned Indianapolis deep in their own territory, and as Ngakoue often does, the premier pass-rusher forced a fumble that cemented the Jaguars’ victory.

The fun didn’t end there as Dede Westbrook made the final statement, reeling in a 18-yard beauty from Minshew before the game ended.

Sunday’s win was fun due to the fact that the Jags’ franchise is in an awkward place in time. The team has developing young stars in place like D.J. Chark Jr., Tre Herndon, and Josh Allen to build around. With the right men at the helm, this franchise has all it needs to return to glory.