Kareem Hunt’s Visit Is Bad News for 2 Vikings

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) reacts after running for a first down in the third quarter during an NFL Week 8 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. Nfl Cincinnati Bengals At Cleveland Browns Oct 31 0028

The Minnesota Vikings have been fairly active trying to bring in talented veterans on some weak spots – at least for visits and workouts. Dalton Risner is a popular name in Vikings’ spheres as the offensive guard has been a weakness for far too long, and he met with the Vikings earlier in training camp. Cornerback Ronald Darby could be an option after a recent workout, and now another veteran might be on Kevin O’Connell’s wishlist.

Kareem Hunt’s Visit Is Bad News for 2 Vikings

Visit Is Bad News for 2 Vikings
Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Kareem Hunt has been a free agent all offseason and is looking for a new job. The Vikings, meanwhile, might want to upgrade their running back group.

Alexander Mattison is the starter, no matter a potential Hunt signing. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had the option to sign either of them in March, and he picked Mattison. With the release of Dalvin Cook and his new contract, he became the new starter. It took Hunt until August to generate some interest. He has met with the Saints, the Colts, and now the Vikings.

Hunt’s arrival in Minnesota’s locker room wouldn’t affect Mattison too much. He could perhaps lose a few touches a game to the veteran, but not much changes should be expected. But it would be a problem for a couple of his backups. The addition would clearly hurt the chances of rookie DeWayne McBride and preseason star Ty Chandler to earn a significant role on offense.

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Chandler looked phenomenal in last year’s preseason, but an injury and the logjam at the position turned his debut season into a virtual redshirt year. He was the standout in the first preseason contest in 2023, in both the running and the passing game.

On the contrary, McBride had an underwhelming outing, struggling to reproduce his college success. He looked awfully slow subbing in for the dynamic Chandler. Of course, McBride is a powerful running back and not a speedster, so a slight difference should be expected. After years of subpar competition at UAB, he might simply need some time to adjust his running style to the big league.

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The problem is he might not have that time. Roster spots are limited to 53, and most teams don’t even have five backs, including a fullback. Mattison, Ham, and in that theory, Hunt would take three spots. A fourth is reserved for kick return star Kene Nwangwu, leaving only one remaining spot. And Chandler has looked markedly better, leaving McBride as the odd man out.

Despite making the roster, a problem for Chandler would be that his breakout won’t earn him the significant role he deserves. Just like roster spots, the touches in the offense are also limited. He currently is envisioned to be the change of pace running back that relieves Mattison from his duties when he is tired or when a different style of back is needed. With Hunt in the building, he would be that guy.

The veteran came into the league with Cook in the 2017 draft as a third-rounder. He took the league by storm with the Chiefs, recording almost 1,800 yards from scrimmage in his debut season, finding the endzone 11 times. A trip to the Pro Bowl highlighted his rookie campaign.

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In 2018, his career was derailed because a video surfaced that showed Hunt kicking a woman. The Chiefs released him, and he joined the Cleveland Browns, where he worked in a committee with Nick Chubb.

Hunt is 28 years old, which is when running backs really slow down, but he could be an exception because a suspension and his time with Chubb limited his touches to 575 in the last four seasons. Dalvin Cook had more than that in the last two seasons combined.

His salary, age, and impact on Chandler and McBride are all things to consider. Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have to decide if those outweigh the benefits on the field.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt