Vikings Might Pounce on Popular NFL Trend

At a moment that was never formally announced, the NFL deviated from running backs as the focal point of offenses. The days of Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes, and Adrian Peterson seemed to vanish without ceremony, as franchises said “no thanks” to expensive running backs while pivoting away from rushing the football, in general.

An onslaught of “running back by committee” ensued, and that popular NFL trend could be coming to Minneapolis in 2023.

Vikings Might Pounce on Popular NFL Trend

The Vikings offense will look different via personnel, and it may start at running back. Here’s why “the committee” is probably on the way.

Dalvin Cook Too Expensive

Vikings Might Pounce
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) looks on before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings paid Dalvin Cook handsomely before the start of 2020 — and fair enough. The man has produced and was a focal point of the Mike Zimmer-led Vikings. Zimmer wanted to run the football, and that he did with Cook as his RB1.

Fast forward to 2022, and Minnesota ran the ball the third least in the NFL. Now led by a former quarterback in Kevin O”Connell, the Vikings are a pass-happy enterprise, unsurprisingly for a team skippered by a, well, former quarterback.

Cook is slated to incur a $14 million cap hit against Minnesota’s books in 2023. It doesn’t make sense to spend that dough at running back when the mission statement is to pass the ball — like all the time.

Various Vikings veterans will depart in the next few months, and Cook is a cap-casualty or trade candidate. When Rick Spielman signed Cook to an extension, 2023 — right now — on the calendar was always baked in the contract as a reflection point. The Vikings can reasonably move on from the 27-year-old, and this “out” is in the agreement for a reason — to evaluate Cook heading into his age-28 season.

Subtracting Cook from the 2023 roster would heavily imply an RB committee is on the way.

Mattison’s Future Uncertain

Alexander Mattison Lost
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) celebrates after an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Saints 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

After that, Alexander Mattison is a free agent. The Vikings could sign him back to a medium-sized deal or let him try RB1 waters with another team. Even if the Vikings retained Mattison while jettisoning Cook, Mattison would probably become the “lead guy” in a running back-by-committee system.

Following the downturn of Todd Gurley with the Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay’s offense embraced an RB committee, and that’s where Kevin O’Connell learned. He also won a Super Bowl with the strategy.

Mattison doesn’t have to be as good as gone, but if he returns in 2023, he’ll have a committee assignment.

Committee Framework Already There

Thoughts on Vikings 2022 Draft Picks in Preseason Opener & Outstanding Rookie Class of 2020
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Think the committee isn’t happening? Explain the 2022 drafting of Ty Chandler.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah used a 5th-Rounder on Chandler from North Carolina nine months ago, and the man showed promise in the preseason. He’s precisely the type of player to showcase in a running back committee.

Moreover, the Vikings also employ Kene Nwangwu, so he could become the RB2 or RB3 of the committee. If Vikings brass trusts the youngsters, Chandler and Nwangwu, then they really only need another halfback to take carries, such as Samaje Perine, a free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals.

RB committees aren’t necessarily sexy – they’re hell for fantasy football managers — but a Moneyball general manager and coach who worked under Sean McVay likely fancy them.

Don’t be shocked if one is on the way to Minnesota.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by