Vikings Got an Absolute Bargain in Latest Trade

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in August of 2022 at Minnesota Vikings headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota.

For about two months, the Minnesota Vikings showed interest in improving the running back room after longtime halfback Dalvin Cook was released early in the summer.

Vikings Got an Absolute Bargain in Latest Trade

The club onboarded little-known runners Abram Smith and Aaron Dykes for the preseason, worked out veterans Kareem Hunt and Mike Davis in August, and eventually signed Myles Gaskin for RB3 duties before the start of the regular season.

That created an RB group of Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Gaskin for the 2023 active roster, with Kene Nwangwu on injured reserve and rookie DeWayne McBride on the practice squad.

On Wednesday evening, though, Minnesota changed it all — perhaps upgraded — adding Los Angeles Rams tailback Cam Akers via trade.

Got an Absolute Bargain
Sep 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (3) prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings sent a conditional 6th-Round draft pick in 2026 to Sean McVay’s team for Akers and a conditional 7th-Rounder in 2026. In NFL-speak, Akers was essentially free, a steal of a deal for Minnesota.

Akers turned pro in 2020, a 2nd-Round pick for the Rams who never truly got off the ground as an RB1. He played extensively last year after recovering from a torn Achilles, but Los Angeles saw one [bad] game from Akers this season and decided to promote Kyren Williams to the top job instead.

Jan 3, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) carries Arizona Cardinals linebacker Tanner Vallejo (51) during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

So, the Vikings, a team that hasn’t run the ball much at all through two games of 2023, swooped for the trade, gaining Akers for peanuts with a low-risk, high-reward pricetag. It is unclear how many snaps Akers will seize in Minnesota or when that might occur, but he’s another option in a backfield that floundered in two games, if not all but ignored via playcalling.

Vikings skipper Kevin O’Connell and Akers crossed paths for two seasons in Los Angeles while O’Connell served as offensive coordinator. Akers’ 2021 campaign was cut short by a season-ending injury, and his teammates, along with O’Connell, won a Super Bowl without him.

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (3) rushes against Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton (57) during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.

And since that Achilles injury, Akers hasn’t regained a reputation as an undisputed RB1 as his draft stock suggested three years ago. With O’Connell in the saddle, the Vikings have already shown an affinity for onboarding former Rams, like Brandon Powell and Johnny Mundt, plus stints with Troy Reeder and Bobby Evans.

For now, Minnesota isn’t consistently running the football — or even trying. The Vikings 26 rush attempts in Weeks 1 and 2 were the third-fewest in NFL history through the first two games of a season. And when the aforementioned Mattison is handed the ball, he’s averaging 3.3 yards per carry behind an offensive line that isn’t pulling its weight. The Vikings might believe they need more swagger at RB1 and could use Akers as an “excuse” to afford a little more commitment to the run.

Sep 18, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (3) carries the ball for a first down before he is forced out of bounds by Atlanta Falcons safety Erik Harris (23) in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Akers, 24, notched 786 rushing yards on 188 carries in 2022 with 7 touchdowns. That’s 4.2 yards per carry, a commendable figure Minnesota will embrace if it translates to 2023.

The man was essentially free, as the three-years-from-now pick swap was the closest method to obtaining Akers as an outright free agent. The trade also fits general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s modus operandi — sending tidbits of draft capital elsewhere for former high-round picks. See: T.J. Hockenson, Jalen Reagor, and Ross Blacklock.

Hockenson worked — emphatically. Reagor and Blacklock did not. We shall see on Akers.

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).

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