Should the Vikings Explore Kareem Hunt?

Nov 20, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) during pre-game warmups before their game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings employ Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, and rookie DeWayne McBride at running back as of late June.

Is that enough?

Should the Vikings Explore Kareem Hunt?

The straightforward answer is probably yes, depending on the eye of the beholder, but some folks disagree. The club cut ties with Dalvin Cook two and a half weeks ago after six illustrious seasons in purple. But now NFL brains are questioning whether Minnesota should bolster the RB room sans Cook.

And if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is in the mood to add one more running back, Kareem Hunt is available on the free agent wire.

Explore Kareem
Sep 11, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) runs for a touchdown in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The Draft Network spitballed free-agent landing spots for Hunt, 27, on Monday. He’s basically the same age as Dalvin Cook — he’s just more affordable. TDN’s Justin Melo wrote about the idea of Hunt to Minnesota, “I’m extremely skeptical that the Vikings have enough at running back following the departure of Cook. Is Alexander Mattison really a starting-caliber running back? Are the inexperienced DeWayne McBride and Ty Chandler ready to contribute? I don’t blame general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for releasing Cook from his bloated five-year, $63 million contract.”

Melo also labeled the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins as sensible team fits for Hunt’s services in 2023.

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) hands off to running back Kareem Hunt (27) during minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports.

“Releasing Cook cleared approximately $9 million in cap space. This decision isn’t an indictment on Minnesota’s potential interest in Hunt, who would cost a fraction of Cook’s previously scheduled cap charge. The 13-win Vikings have arguably experienced the strangest offseason among all NFL franchises. Are they rebuilding or reloading? Agreeing to terms with Hunt could help Minnesota repeat as NFC North division champions,” Melo concluded.

In or out on Hunt boils down to a simple question for Vikings fans — are Mattison, Nwangwu, Chandler, and McBride enough to get the job done on the ground in 2023? The club has blatantly professed a desire and plan to run the football more in 2023, and it’s a bit backward that it decided such in the same offseason when Cook skedaddled.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Still, head coach Kevin O’Connell believes in Mattison — perhaps even a bellcow-style RB1 — while the other three are available for committee-like support. At this stage in his career, chiefly because he fulfilled reservist duty for Nick Chubb in Cleveland, Hunt is really just Dalvin-lite. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2022, a number that doesn’t inspire confidence.

Signing a journeyman running back makes sense on paper, particularly for a site like The Draft Network that isn’t singularly focused on the Vikings. However, with four men already on tap for some semblance of Vikings RB duty, an aging Hunt doesn’t move the needle.

Perhaps Adofo-Mensah could make the call to Hunt if something happens injury-wise to Mattison at training camp. Otherwise, he’d create an even more crowded house in the Vikings backfield.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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