The Verdict Is in for Ham Bone
While one Minnesota native left the Minnesota Vikings last week for the Carolina Panthers, another remains.
That’s Dultuth’s own C.J. Ham, a fullback whose resume with the club dates back to 2016. Ham and the Vikings agreed to an extension Wednesday.
The Verdict Is in for Ham Bone
Sports agency IFA tweeted, “No place like home! #30 remains in Minnesota on two-year extension. Let’s go C.J. Ham 😤.”
Ham was under contract for 2023 before the IFA tweet, but the extension evidently glues Ham to the Vikings roster through the end of 2024, at the earliest, although the parameters were not immediately clear. The Augustana University alumnus was scheduled to inflict a $3.8 million cap hit against the Vikings books in 2023, a number that now seems agreeable for Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
The Vikings rarely used Ham on offense in 2022 as the club onboarded Kevin O’Connell 14 months ago, and his former team, the Los Angeles Rams, didn’t employ fullbacks at all. O’Connell used Ham on 15% of offensive snaps last season, while Ham contributed significantly on special teams (66% of snaps).
And because Ham was utilized so infrequently on offense, the 29-year-old was theorized by some as an offseason cap casualty. The Vikings could’ve saved over $3 million in cap space with a Ham release, but his locker room presence, special teams body of work, and appearances on offense were enough to warrant more years in purple.
A fan favorite, Ham will rejoin a Vikings locker room devoid of a handful of veterans like Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson, Patrick Peterson, and Cameron Dantzler next season. Minnesota’s cap situation was grim entering free agency and parting ways with the aforementioned veterans to get younger and more affordable was a must. Thankfully for Ham’s sake, he made the cut.
Retaining Ham may also signal the Vikings plan to run the football more during O’Connell’s second act. Minnesota ranked third-worst in the league per run-play percentage, deciding instead to throw the pigskin all over the place. And usually, teams ranking at the bottom of the barrel per rushing attempts don’t succeed. The Vikings, a 13-4 team in 2022, skated the rule but might become more balanced, especially in extending Ham and signing blocking TE Josh Oliver from the Baltimore Ravens.
Ham ran the football just four times last year but scored two touchdowns. He’s the third longest-tenured Viking on the current roster behind safety Harrison Smith and outside linebacker Danielle Hunter.
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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 OverTheCap.com.
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