5 Under-the-Radar Free Agent RBs for Vikings

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Reports about Minnesota’s intention to release veteran running back Alexander Mattison surfaced on Thursday. He spent the last five seasons with the Vikings and was one year into his two-year deal. The Vikings save roughly $3.3 million in cap space, money they can spend to acquire a new runner who can team up with 2023 breakout player Ty Chandler.

5 Under-the-Radar Free Agent RBs for Vikings

Everyone knows about the top free agent runners Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs, but the Vikings will likely look for a cheaper option. The good news is that there are some of those available. Mattison signed a contract worth $4 million per season with the Vikings last year, and the following players should be attainable for a similar salary.

5. Gus Edwards, Ravens

Gus Edwards has been the running back in Baltimore for what feels like an eternity. Coming out of Rutgers in 2018, the powerful runner went undrafted and joined Lamar Jackson’s franchise, playing 69 games with the Ravens.

5 Under-the-Radar Free Agent RBs for Vikings
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While they tried to replace him by selecting J.K. Dobbins in the second round, Edwards kept a significant role because of Dobbins’ injuries, rushing for 3,395 yards and putting up at least 700 rushing yards in four of five seasons. A torn ACL prevented him from playing in 2021 and limited him to nine contests in 2022, but he bounced back in 2023, scoring 13 touchdowns.

Edwards is a true powerback, making him the ideal sidekick for Chandler, who excels by using his speed. He will turn 29 in April and will not be a longterm solution but could be a wonderful change-of-pace RB for the Vikings.

4. AJ Dillon, Packers

One of the biggest running backs in recent history, AJ Dillon is a force on any given run. The Packer formed one of the best halfback tandems in the league with Aaron Jones, but now, at age 25, he is scheduled to leave the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2020.

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Through four seasons, Dillon rushed for 2,428 yards and 16 touchdowns, adding 763 yards and two more scores as a receiver. The 247 lbs running back is not a threat to produce splash plays, but he is one of the better options in the NFL on short-yardage situations and to wear the defense down with his physical running approach.

Similar to Edwards, Dillon doesn’t quite have the quality to be an RB1 in the NFL, but his play style would match well with Chandler in a tandem.

3. Devin Singletary, Texans

From the biggest to the smallest player on the list, Devin Singletary was a Bills’ third-rounder in 2019. At only 5’7″ and 203 lbs, he offers excellent quickness. The former FAU standout has remarkable consistency for a running back, producing between 956 and 1,099 yards from scrimmage in each of his five seasons in the league. He has also barely missed any time in his career.

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Last season, Singletary joined the Houston Texans and usurped the star rookie from the previous season, Dameon Pierce, claiming the starting role halfway through the season.

The 26-year-old will never be a full workhorse running back in the NFL because of his size, but he has been effective throughout his NFL career and is worth a look.

2. J.K. Dobbins, Ravens

From consistency to projection, the previously mentioned former Ravens draft pick has an extensive injury history. In the 2021 preseason, J.K. Dobbins suffered a torn ACL, another knee injury cost him most of his 2022 season, and a torn Achilles ended his 2023 season.

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Unfortunately, he still hasn’t shown his full potential, producing 1,347 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns from scrimmage in 23 games. On the flip side, Dobbins should be cheap because of the injuries, which limits the risk, and has the highest upside of all five players on the list. It is a bet on his potential, but getting a full season out of him for cheap money would be outstanding value.

1. Zack Moss, Colts

The top under-the-radar running back, Zack Moss, has shown flashes of the ability to be a starter when Jonathan Taylor was forced to miss time because of injuries. He is coming off a breakout season with 794 yards and five touchdowns.

Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss (21) leaves the field Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

In his first two-and-a-half years in Buffalo, he didn’t land a major role, but after a trade to Indianapolis, Moss significantly contributed to Shane Steichen’s offense. In 22 contests with the Colts, Moss rushed for 1,159 yards and 6 touchdowns on a solid 4.5 yards per carry, and he added 204 receiving yards and 2 scores.

Moss is 26 years old and should have at least a couple of seasons left in the tank. Some of the previous players are much closer to the end of their careers, but he has been getting better recently.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt