Help Seems on the Way for Key Vikings Roster Spot

Wacky Justin
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings’ ground game needs urgent repair — so, as soon as the 2024 season — if head coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense ever wants to reach optimal achievement.

Help Seems on the Way for Key Vikings Roster Spot

O’Connell was supposed to fix the rushing attack last offseason, and the Vikings claimed they did entering 2023, but then the season arrived, and no repair occurred. In fact, it might’ve regressed.

Help Seems
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) eyes the goal line on a touchdown run in the first quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Have a look at the 2023 rushing statistics:

Vikings Rushing Stats,

Yards per Rush = 24th
Rush EPA = 25th
DVOA = 27th
Rushing Yards = 29th
Rush Play % = 30th
Rushing TDs = 30th

But O’Connell took the podium at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, and this time, he sounded open to adding new personnel. “It’s always a position that I think, whether free agency or the draft, you’re looking to continue to infuse talent and different skill sets into that room,” O’Connell told reporters in Indianapolis about possible new tailbacks.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

NFL free agency begins in less than two weeks, and the NFL Draft is about eight weeks away.

O’Connell added, “But we feel good about what those guys were able to do and, more importantly, hopefully what we can build on from there. Specifically with Ty toward the end of the season, I thought seeing him really come on there and really start to assert himself was a real positive for our team.”

Individual RB
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Ty Chandler indeed produced in a major way down the stretch of 2023, but Vikings fans aren’t exactly sure if the performance is sustainable. Maybe, maybe not. Alexander Mattison remains under contract in 2024, and the club has no financial incentive whatsoever to cut him.

These are the team’s running backs on the books for 2024:

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

And if Minnesota pursues free agency for a solution, these men, among others, might be available:

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

And from the draft:

  • Jonathon Brooks (Texas)
  • Blake Corum (Michigan)
  • Trey Benson (Florida State)
  • TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State)
  • MarShawn Lloyd (USC)
  • Bucky Irving (Oregon)
  • Braelon Allen (Wisconsin)
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports.

Thankfully for the Vikings’ sake, the franchise has the funds available in free agency to splash for a proven veteran. In past offseasons, Minnesota pinched pennies in January, February, and March just to “get out of the red.” It also owns a 2nd-Round pick this year, meaning it could target its top RB target on Draft Night No. 2.

Minnesota didn’t score a rushing touchdown until Week 8 last year — a grim example of the futility.

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