Now the Vikings Can Buy an RB

Draft a Duck
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

On Thursday evening, the Minnesota Vikings made somewhat of a surprising decision when it was reported that running back Alexander Mattison was being released.

Now the Vikings Can Buy an RB

He entered the 2023 season as the starter, and while he lost that role by year’s end, it still stood to reason that he’d be back for 2024. Now, the Vikings can buy a replacement.

When the Minnesota Vikings parted ways with Dalvin Cook prior to the 2023 season, it was with the expectation that Alexander Mattison would pick up where he left off. The veteran bellcow had started trending downwards in recent seasons, which was substantiated by his lack of usage with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. Even while Cook was out of the picture, Mattison did nothing to step up.

Vikings Can Buy
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Despite being one of the game’s better backups over the past few seasons, Mattison, as a starter, never got off the ground. He never established a rhythm, and his lack of production had the Vikings offense looking much more one-dimensional than even Kevin O’Connell would have ever signed up for. By season’s end, Ty Chandler had taken over the starting duties, and Mattison had fallen down the depth chart. With a $4 million dead cap figure and more than $2 million in guarantees, it seemed Minnesota would bring him back, but they decided against it.

Much like last season, the Vikings running back room is currently bare. Chandler looked good in limited opportunity, but he’s far too untested to be the only thing Minnesota is banking on. Cam Akers is coming back from a second severe injury, and as a free agent, it’s no guarantee he’s in the organization either. It stands to reason that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah either needs to draft a player for the position or sign one.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Buying a running back is a relatively straightforward suggestion for the Vikings. In spending salary cap dollars, they can allocate limited draft assets elsewhere. The NFL doesn’t pay running backs a substantial amount anymore, and Minnesota should find more than a handful of veterans available with justifiable price tags.

D’Andre Swift and Tony Pollard jump out as exciting options, but the landscape is chock full of options, and O’Connell can speak to what level he needs alongside Chandler.

Michigan running back Blake Corum runs the ball in for a touchdown during fourth quarter at the College Football Playoff national championship game against Washington at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Monday, Jan.8, 2024. © Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Both Blake Corum and Bucky Irving should be available to Minnesota with their second-round pick, but needing to utilize that much of an asset in an undervalued position may not be wise. Cap dollars are easy to allocate, and Minnesota would immediately know the type of production they should get from a free agent option. After having positional certainty at running back for so long, they have entered a bit of a revolving door.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.