With the trade deadline looming, the Vikings must look to trade away fourth-year running back Alexander Mattison.
This might be a questionable view to some. Mattison holds a cap hit of just $1.17 million. Cook is injury-prone, so it is very beneficial for the Vikings to roster Mattison.
Over the past two years, Mattison has performed sensationally when Cook was inactive. In 6 total games when Cook has been inactive, Mattison has recorded 477 rushing yards, 216 receiving yards, and 5 total touchdowns. Over these games, Mattison holds a strong 4.07 yards per carry and an average of 115.5 scrimmage yards per game. If these statistics were extrapolated over a 17-game season, Mattison would total just north of 1,350 rushing yards. This would have landed him as the 2nd highest rusher in the NFL for the 2021-2022 season. There is no doubt that Mattison is an extremely talented running back. So why should the Vikings trade him?
The 2022-2023 season marks the final year of Mattison’s four year rookie contract. After this season, Mattison will be an unrestricted free agent – meaning he can agree to a deal with any team.
Wisely, the Vikings are reported to be listening to trade offers for him. With Cook under contract, it is likely that Mattison will leave the Vikings in free agency this offseason as he will receive a more lucrative deal outside of Minnesota.
Additionally, it’s an unfavorable strategy to shell out large deals to running backs. From 2009 to 2020, the starting running back on Super Bowl winning teams each year carried an average salary of just $1.1 million, allowing for the team to have more talent elsewhere. The Vikings should stick with 3-time pro bowler Dalvin Cook.
What could the Vikings receive in return for Mattison? Many contending teams would be willing to ship a draft pick away for him, as he has so much talent while still on a rookie deal. Contending teams may offer Minnesota a late Day 2 pick, which they would be wise to accept. Multiple contending teams are just a running back away from a great offense and should consider calling Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Los Angeles Rams headline the list.