Longtime Vikings Playmaker Finds New Team

Alexander Mattison
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It is a compelling time in the history of the Minnesota Vikings because the team is about to draft a QB early in the first round, likely higher than ever before. Speculation about whether that guy will be Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy is the main topic in Skol Nation. In addition to that, free agency is still ongoing. After the first wave of free agency had passed, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added a couple of veteran rotational players.

Longtime Vikings Playmaker Finds New Team

Trent Sherfield will be a depth receiver and special teams player while lineman Dan Feeney should claim the role of the top backup interior offensive lineman as he has experience at all three interior spots.

Longtime Vikings Playmaker Finds New Team
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One of those reliable veterans recently departed from the organization when the Vikings released running back Alexander Mattison. A couple of weeks later, he found a new home, joining the Las Vegas Raiders, Tom Pelissero reported on Monday afternoon.

Drafted with the final pick in the third round in 2019, Mattison was a five-year contributor to Minnesota’s offense, primarily as a backup for star rusher Dalvin Cook. Following the exits of veterans Jerick Mckinnon in 2018 and Latavius Murray in 2019, the Vikings needed a new guy for the RB2 job.

Mattison kept that role for four years, starting only six of 59 games he played in as Cook stayed fairly healthy for a running back with his dose of touches. Following those four seasons, the Vikings surprisingly re-signed Mattison to a two-year contract when he was ready to leave via free agency.

Year 1 of the O'Connell Era
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Cook was released a few months later, and Mattison took over the RB1 role ahead of a bunch of unproven players.

That, unfortunately, didn’t work out very well. A combination of offensive line struggles, a seemingly broken running scheme, and subpar play from the RB group, the rushing attack was a disaster in 2023. Mattison was in the most prominent role. He failed to find the endzone on the ground and tabulated 700 rushing yards on 180 attempts, resulting in an average of only 3.9 yards per carry. The veteran added 192 yards and three touchdowns as a pass-catcher.

Different Story
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When he was forced to miss a contest in Week 15, backup Ty Chandler usurped him in the starting lineup and kept the job for the final four games. Chandler’s emergence and the opportunity to save $3.35 million in cap space for the upcoming season were the two reasons for the release.

Aaron Jones, previously with the Green Bay Packers, was signed to take his spot, and comparing the production in the last few years, he should be an upgrade until his age catches up with him. Chandler’s role is also set to increase.

How Badly Do the Vikings Need an RB?
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Mattison now joins the Raiders, a franchise that has to deal with the exit of star rusher Josh Jacobs who signed in Green Bay, which made new Viking Jones expendable. A fun coincidence, the three rushers are all connected now. The ex-Viking will fight for carries with 2022 fourth-rounder Zamir White who was a star at Georgia but has been stuck behind Jacobs so far.

At age 25, Mattison should have some more years left in the tank. He has always been a solid backup, the starting role was just too big for him.

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