Clarity on Alexander Mattison’s Role after Cam Akers Trade

Youngest Offseason
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) walks off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

If you thought Alexander Mattison would be immediately demoted after the Minnesota Vikings swung a low-risk trade for Cam Akers, think again.

Clarity on Alexander Mattison’s Role after Cam Akers Trade

The Vikings sent a conditional 6th-Round draft pick in 2026 to the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday for Akers and a conditional 7th-Rounder in 2026. In NFL-speak, Akers was essentially free, a steal of a deal for Minnesota.

But that doesn’t mean Akers is the new RB1.

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 will indeed be showcased in the Vikings offense, just not a right-away bellcow or anything of the sort. Minnesota remains very much committed to Mattison, a 25-year-old who, alas, earned RB1 duties last offseason when Dalvin Cook left and joined the New York Jets.

Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips spoke to the media Thursday morning and clarified some RB matters after the Akers deal, “We haven’t lost confidence in Alexander Mattison.”

Clarity on Alexander
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

Through two games, Minnesota isn’t consistently running the football — or even bothering. 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 Mattison is handed the ball, he’s averaging 3.3 yards per carry behind an offensive line that isn’t doing the team any favors. He also lost a fumble one week ago in a loss at the Philadelphia Eagles.

“For the most part, we’re always trying to add talent to the roster. Cam is a guy that we feel can do that for us. No indication of really anything that’s going on except for that we’re always going to try and add good players,” Phillips said about Akers’ addition to the depth chart.

Vikings Coach Says
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips looks on prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In May, Mattison told about the team’s plan to run the rock more in 2023, “We all knew the run game was an area of improvement we needed, so coming into this year, there’s more emphasis. Being in Year 1 in this offense, it was something that throughout the process is learning new things, so that’s a year of foundation that we have, can look back on that at what we need to correct and do well, what we don’t do as well and improve. It’s definitely been a little more emphasis.”

Then, the regular season arrived, and the plan to run the ball more frequently vanished, and in fact, the Vikings have run the ball less — at a criminally low rate.

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) dives for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) and defensive end Logan Hall (90) in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Adding Akers likely indicates a true-blue RB-by-committee is on the way for Minnesota, which hasn’t occurred since the 2003-2005 era that featured Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore, and Onterrio Smith. Vikings fans grew accustomed to Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook for 15 years, but the tide is turning as the team aligns with the pass-happy standard of the NFL that often employs a hodgepodge of non-big-name halfbacks.

The takeaway? Indeed, Minnesota pulled off a nifty trade for Akers, but he’s not the RB1 in waiting, according to Phillips.

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