Vikings on Short List for One Fascinating FA

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s the statistic to know about the Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 rushing attack:

Vikings Rushing Offense DVOA:

2022 = 27th
2023 = 27th

Vikings on Short List for One Fascinating FA

And that was after Vikings coaches and players said that enhancing the ground game was a foremost point of emphasis all last offseason. Regrettably, the team showed up to 2023, and nothing had improved per rushing efficiency. In some regards, it regressed.

for One Fascinating
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Well, according to Bleacher Report, the fix could be simple: sign Saquon Barkley.

It may be unlikely for Minnesota to spend that type of free-agent cash on a running back, but stranger things have happened, especially when the ground game needs repair. BR’s Alex Ballentine listed six possible free-agent destinations for Barkley this week, and the Vikings made the cut.

“The Vikings have questions at quarterback going into next season. Kirk Cousins is set to become a free agent, and he missed the last half of the 2023 season with a torn Achilles. If Cousins comes back, Barkley could be the final piece for one of the best skill-position groups in the league. If the Vikings turn to a young quarterback, having a strong ground game will become even more important,” Ballentine wrote about Barkley to Minnesota.

Simple Plan
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) and running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrate Jones’ first touchdown in the first half at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford. Nfl Ny Giants Vs Chicago Bears. © Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK.

These are the Vikings’ running backs under contract in 2024:

  • RB1: Ty Chandler
  • RB2: Alexander Mattison
  • RB3: Kene Nwangwu
  • RB4: DeWayne McBride
  • RB5: Myles Gaskin

Ballentine continued, “The Vikings have opted for a ‘competitive rebuild’ approach over tearing things down completely. They face a serious quarterback dilemma this offseason, but signing Barkley would raise the floor of the offense. As long as the Vikings get competent quarterback play, it’s going to be hard to stop an offense that has wideouts Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, tight end T.J. Hockenson and Barkley.”

25 Free Agents
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota employs Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at general manager, a man with an analytics-focused background, and it is unclear if he’d spend $10-$12 million per year on a running back.

“Bringing on the star back would give Minnesota flexibility at quarterback because the offense will be powered by a supercharged group of skill players,” Ballentine concluded.

These free-agent halfbacks will also be available in March if not re-signed by their existing team:

  • JK Dobbins
  • Austin Ekeler
  • Antonio Gibson
  • Derrick Henry
  • Josh Jacobs
  • Zack Moss
  • Tony Pollard
  • D’Andre Swift

Ballentine listed the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and Houston Texans as alternative destinations for Barkley, too.

Vikings Will Face 2 Scary Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports.

On the whole, it’s more likely that the Vikings sign a more affordable free agent like Zack Moss, draft a rookie running back in Rounds 2-7, or roll with the fivesome under contract in 2024.

NFL free agency kicks off in 32 days.

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