Vikings Should Explore an Old Friend at RB

Predicts Unpleasant Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have about $26 million in cap space at the moment, able to spend some cash on extra free agents or roll the money over to 2025.

Vikings Should Explore an Old Friend at RB

The club also has some arguable roster needs, including WR3, premiere defensive tackle, and perhaps cornerback. Too, the offense could get away with enriching the RB3 spot, and if the Vikings are interested, they could call an old friend in Jerick McKinnon.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) warms up before an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-9. © Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK.

McKinnon, 32, is a free agent and spent the last three seasons in Kansas City, winning two Super Bowl rings for his troubles. Not bad.

Now, with any luck, he could rejoin the club that onboarded him to the NFL a decade ago. Minnesota found McKinnon in Round 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft — the Teddy Bridgewater draft — and he remained in the Twin Cities for four seasons.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

For context, these are Minnesota running backs as of mid-June:

  • Aaron Jones
  • Ty Chandler
  • Kene Nwangwu
  • DeWayne McBride
  • Myles Gaskin

That’s definitely enough players for the 53-man roster, as the Vikings will probably keep three RBs this September. However, the RB3 depth is suspect. If injuries beset Jones or Chandler — RBs always get hurt — head coach Kevin O’Connell would have to hand the scepter to Nwangwu, McBride, or Gaskin, and it is unclear if any of those runners could handle an RB1 or RB2 workload.

McKinnon, on the other hand, is experienced. Plus, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, his modus operandi all the way back to his first stint in Minnesota. This recommendation does not declare McKinnon as an ideal fit for RB1 or anything of the sort, but McKinnon can reasonably considered a sound insurance policy.

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Additionally, he’d be affordable. His career is winding down, and the generous money is gone at this juncture of free agency. The Vikings could sign McKinnon somewhere in the arena of a veteran minimum contract.

In Minnesota from 2014 to 2017, McKinnon tabulated 2,902 yards from scrimmage in 4 seasons, along with 12 touchdowns. He was a season-saver at times when big-name Vikings RBs hit the infirmary. Plus, Vikings loyalists always knew McKinnon was the real deal; he just wasn’t showcased as an RB1 because, well, Minnesota didn’t employ Andy Reid or Patrick Mahomes, who later became McKinnon’s comrades in Kansas City for the Super Bowl titles.

Time for Super
Nov 19, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon (21) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

He joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2018 — on a chunky contract — and promptly battled injuries. The man missed two full seasons in 2018 and 2019, if that can be believed.

Otherwise, if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wishes to bolster the RB3 depth but does not want McKinnon, free agents like Kareem Hunt, Cam Akers, and Matt Breida, among others, are available, too.

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).

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