Vikings Release Playmaker after 5 Seasons

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The looming decision at the quarterback position is the main subject in the Vikings universe but the franchise is making other moves, setting themselves up for the upcoming free agency period. The negotiation window begins on March 11 while contracts can be signed on March 13 when the new league year arrives.

Vikings Release Playmaker after 5 Seasons

Theo Jackson was the first player the purple team re-signed. The versatile safety was also scheduled to enter free agency but he is going nowhere, staying on Brian Flores’ defense as a backup safety and special teams player.

release playmaker
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One player who will not return for another season is running back Alexander Mattison who spent five seasons with the Vikings. Adam Schefter reported on X: “Vikings informed RB Alexander Mattison today that they are releasing him, per source. Mattison took over last season for Dalvin Cook and ran for 700 yards and caught 30 passes. Now he becomes a free agent again, like last year when he signed a two-year deal with Minnesota.”

Mattison was drafted with the final pick of the third round in 2019 after former GM Rick Spielman traded back. A powerful player coming out of Boise State with limited top speed, his play style exactly fits those skills for better or worse. Running through people, and sometimes jumping over them, was his specialty while running around them like Dalvin Cook wasn’t in his repertoire.

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Through the first four seasons, Mattison was Cook’s backup, spelling him for a handful of touches every game while replacing him in half a dozen games as the starter when the star was injured. In those campaigns, he collected 1,670 rushing yards and 526 yards through the air, scoring a total of 14 times.

Then last season, when he was an unrestricted free agent, the Vikings surprisingly brought him back for a fifth season, signing him to a two-year deal. Later in the offseason, they released Cook, promoting Mattison to the starter role.

Almost a year after re-signing him, it can objectively be stated that it was a massive mistake. He couldn’t fill Cook’s shoes and failed to be the focal point of a functioning rushing attack while it should be noted that he wasn’t the lone culprit. The offensive line and perhaps some play designs didn’t quite put him in a perfect situation. He rushed for 700 yards and failed to score a rushing touchdown (he scored three receiving TDs).

Monitor Key Offensive
Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) dives for the end zone as Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Dax Hill (23) defend 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. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Vikings gain $3.3 million in cap space by releasing Mattison. Ty Chandler, who replaced the veteran in the starting lineup in the final four games of the season, is now the penciled-in starter until the Vikings acquire a different one in the draft or free agency.

It is unlikely that they would enter a season with him as the unquestioned starter followed by practice squad players DeWayne McBride and Myles Gaskin.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell said on Tuesday about the RB position: “It’s always a position that I think, whether in free agency or the draft, you’re looking to continue to infuse talent and different skill sets into that room but I feel good about what those guys were able to do, and more importantly, hopefully, what we can build on from there specifically with Ty towards the end of the season.”

Michigan running back Blake Corum runs the ball in for a touchdown during the 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.

The top running backs in this year’s class are:

  • Blake Corum, Michigan
  • Trey Benson, Florida State
  • Jonathon Brooks, Texas
  • Braelon Allen, Wisconsin
  • Mar’Keise Irving, Oregon
  • Audric Estime, Notre Dame
  • Will Shipley, Clemson

In free agency, the Vikings can find stars like Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs but also cheaper but reliable options Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.

As a member of the Vikings, Mattison tabulated 3,088 yards from scrimmage and found paydirt 17 times. He will turn 26 in June.

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