Vikings parting ways with offensive weapon

    Re-signed during Dalvin Cook‘s extended goodbye last year, Alexander Mattison will join his former teammate in free agency. The Vikings are planning to release Mattison.

    The team has informed its primary 2023 starting running back he will be cut, per’s Adam Schefter. Minnesota gave Mattison a two-year, $7M deal that came nearly fully guaranteed. As a result, this will bring a bit of dead money for the Vikings.

    Mattison has been with the Vikings for five seasons, moving up on the depth chart last year after spending most of his career as Cook’s backup. Minnesota saw some promising signs from Ty Chandler late last season, and the 2022 draftee’s rookie deal runs through 2025. A year after they moved Cook’s pricey extension off their payroll, the Vikings will shed Mattison’s lower-end contract.

    It will cost the Vikings $4M in dead money to release Mattison; the move will bring only $600K in cap savings. The former third-round pick was set to earn a $3.3M base salary in 2024. Unless the Vikes designate Mattison as a post-June 1 release, they will not benefit much financially from this transaction.

    Averaging just 3.9 yards per carry in his first extended run as a starter, Mattison did not tally a rushing touchdown last season. He did total 700 rushing yards, adding three receiving TDs. Still, it represented a fairly disappointing run from a player the Vikings hoped would replace Cook at a fraction of the cost. Cutting Cook after he had surpassed 1,100 rushing yards in four straight seasons, the Vikings ranked 29th in rushing last year. Granted, Cook struggled in New York, but Minnesota did not fare well on the ground without its longtime starter.

    The Vikings traded for Cam Akers in October. After the ex-Rams back began to eat into Mattison’s workload, he suffered a season-ending Achilles tear. A fifth-round pick who played at Tennessee and North Carolina, Chandler finished with 461 rushing yards and a 4.5-yard average. Both Chandler and Mattison are 25, despite the former entering the league three years later. Chandler, however, has logged only 108 NFL carries. He should be a bit fresher, though that may not be a primary concern here; Mattison has only totaled 584 career totes. Regardless, the Vikings are moving on from their primary RB1 for a second straight year.

    Mattison missed a late-season game due to an ankle sprain and worked as Chandler’s backup in the Vikings’ final three contests; the Boise State alum did well to score the guarantee he did last year. As 2023 showed up until the Jonathan Taylor extension, the market is not pretty for veteran running backs. Mattison now heads to free agency during the same year in which Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry, Devin Singletary, Gus Edwards and D’Andre Swift are set to be available.

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