Minneapolis - He hasn’t formally met any of his new teammates yet and won’t see TCO Performance Center any time soon, but Tajae Sharpe is ready to try and take over the No. 2 receiver wide receiver spot with the Minnesota Vikings.
Sharpe, after three seasons with the Tennessee Titans, agreed to sign a reported one-year contract and gets an opportunity to earn a starting receiver spot opposite Adam Thielen. He was brought in after the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills last week, in exchange for four draft picks. That includes a first-round pick in next month’s NFL Draft.
“I’m going to come and do everything my coaching staff asks me to do. I’m going to do whatever is needed of me, to help the team be successful and to help the offense put points on the board. Whatever that role may be, I’m 100 percent on board and I’m all for it,” Sharpe said Thursday via conference call.
Sharpe’s best season thus afar actually came in his rookie year with Tennessee. He played in all 16 games with10 starts, and had 41 catches on 83 targets for 522 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 12.2 yards per catch.
He became a greater deep threat this past season, making 35 catches for 329 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in 15 games, including six starts. He averaged 13.2 yards per catch, caught more than 71 percent of his targets and averaged 9.4 yards per target, also a career-high.
He now joins a receiver group that includes Thielen, second-year players Bisi Johnson and Irv Smith, Chad Beebe coming of an injury-plagued season, Davion Davis, Alexander Hollins and Dillon Mitchell. He said Thursday he felt the Vikings were the best opportunity for him and his family, and the right fit. With Diggs gone, Sharpe gets his chance.
“I felt that I had an opportunity to come in here and compete for a starting spot. That’s all you can ask for is an opportunity to compete, to prove your worth,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe’s conversations with the Vikings were limited to phone calls, which on Wednesday included offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and quarterback Kirk Cousins. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, he’s at home and waiting for the NFL to reopen team facilities. That might be a while, so he’s making the most out of the resources at and near his house.
He has a home gym that includes weights and a treadmill. He has a park down the block where he can run and go if he needs to get outside. He has cones and a jugs machine set up in his backyard to focus on footwork, and staying consistent with catching the football. He won’t let the Covid-19 pandemic become an excuse for not being ready when teams can reconvene for offseason workouts.
“It is a little weird to know that I’m not getting ready to go out to Minnesota and get ready for OTAs,” Sharpe said. “Just trying to find little ways to keep my game sharp and stay on my toes so when everything clears up, I’ll be ready to go.”
He also makes sure he takes time to get away from football.
In his spare time, Sharpe runs the “Get Money Regardless” hip hop group and writes music. The group includes two of his childhood friends, and they released their first mixtape in March of 2019. He has plans to release another tape next month.
“When I’m not on the football field, that’s just one of the ways I kind of kill time. It’s one the things I also love doing, just being an artist and making music. Just another way to express myself,” Sharpe said.
His goal now is to make a different form of music and build chemistry with Cousins, who himself agreed last week to a two-year extension with the Vikings. He’s looking forward to meeting his new quarterback.
“He does a great job of not only delivering the football to his receivers, he was probably the best deep ball thrower in the league last year. So I’m excited about that, getting the opportunity to go down field and make some plays,” Sharpe said.