The Minnesota Vikings have not closed the door on adding another running back to the roster ahead of the regular season.
“Free agent RB Kareem Hunt is visiting with the #Vikings today, per source,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported via Twitter on Friday afternoon.
Hunt will play the upcoming season at 28 years old after spending the last four years as the No. 2 option in Cleveland behind perennial Pro Bowler Nick Chubb. Hunt won an NFL rushing title as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs during his rookie campaign in 2017.
Vikings Third Stop on Kareem Hunt’s Recent Free Agent Tour of NFL
Hunt has also visited recently with the New Orleans Saints, where ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported on August 8 in a since-deleted tweet that the RB would sign assuming he could prove he was in good health and had maintained his physical conditioning. The Saints will be without their starting back for the first three games of the regular season after the NFL suspended Alvin Kamara due to his involvement in an off-field incident in Las Vegas in February 2022.
However, Hunt then traveled on to a meeting with the Indianapolis Colts, where 2021 All-Pro rusher Jonathan Taylor is feuding with management/ownership over a new contract. Hunt left Indianapolis without a deal, the same as he did New Orleans.
The reason Hunt remains available to workout/meet with the Vikings Friday is presumably due to financial issues. The running back earned $12 million over a two-year contract with the Browns in 2021-22, though he unsuccessfully pushed for a new deal in Cleveland via a brief holdout/trade request last summer.
Kareem Hunt Can Provide Vikings Insurance, Competition for Starter Alexander Mattison
Minnesota isn’t facing the same scenario at running back as either the Saints or the Colts, however there are some questions at the position.
The Vikings extended Alexander Mattison on a two-year, $7 million contract over the offseason to replace four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook. Minnesota released Cook in June in order to save $9 million against the 2023 salary cap. He remains a free agent.
Mattison is the clear No. 1 option on the Vikings’ roster as of Friday, though he was dinged up in practice on August 1 and watched the rest of the session from the sidelines. The injury, however minor, gave the franchise real cause to examine its stable of rushers with approximately one month to go before the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 10.
The resulting move was Minnesota’s signing of RB Abram Smith after hosting him to a workout a couple of days following Mattison’s injury at practice. However, the Vikings may not have felt that was enough after watching a handful of backs try their hand at the position during the team’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.
Ty Chandler, a fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2022, led the team with 11 carries for 42 yards. He also caught four passes for 29 yards receiving. Smith carried the ball seven times and gained 18 yards, while DeWayne McBride tallied six rushing attempts for 15 yards, per ESPN.com. None of the three scored a rushing touchdown.
The Vikings’ first unofficial depth chart of the preseason lists kick return specialist Kene Nwangwu as the backup behind Mattison, though Nwangwu has only registered 22 rushing attempts for 75 yards and made six catches for 30 yards over two NFL seasons.
Minnesota listed Chandler as the team’s third-string back on that depth chart, followed by McBride and Abrams in that order.