Insider: Vikings Inform $7 Million Starter of Pending Release

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

Getty General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings are ready to move on.

That was their message to last season’s opening day starting running back Alexander Mattison, the team’s leading rusher last season.

“Vikings informed RB Alexander Mattison today that they are releasing him, per source,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on February 29. “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.”

This is likely a cost-cutting move.

Mattison, 25, is supposed to begin the second year of a two-year, $7 million contract this coming season. Cutting him now would only net the Vikings $600,000 in cap savings. However, if they designate him as a post-June 1 cut, they will save $3.5 million, per Spotrac.

The Vikings have $38.5 million in cap space following the NFL’s adjustment to the salary cap and before making this move.

Mattison, who shared a fan’s clip of him hurdling a defender in celebration of Leap Day earlier on in the day, led the Vikings with 700 yards on 180 carries last season, both career highs.

He also had 192 yards and three touchdowns on 30 receptions.

However, Mattison failed to cross the goal line on the ground all season and finished the 2023 season with minus-5 yards in 12 carries from inside the opponents’ 10-yard line. His 3.9 yards per carry ranked 22nd among the 30 players with at least 180 carries last season, per Stahead.

Alexander Mattison Expected to Draw Interest in Free Agency

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

GettyAlexander Mattison #2 of the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite his middling production, Mattison is not expected to be out of work very long if and when he officially gets his walking papers.

“He’s expected to have good interest as a free agent,” KPRC 2’s Aaron Wilson posted.

The Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, and Philadelphia Eagles could all be among the teams searching for help at running back that could see value in a hard-nosed runner like Mattison this offseason.

For Mattison, the Bears and Ravens are consistently among the NFL’s best rushing attacks. The Texans revitalized the career of former Buffalo Bills back Devin Singletary in 2023.

The Cowboys and Eagles, like the Ravens, are also consistently in playoff contention.

Vikings Prepared to Move Forward Without Alexander Mattison

Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings

GettyTy Chandler #32 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings may have been preparing themselves to move on from Mattison long before word of this decision came down. He was outproduced by 2022 fifth-round pick Ty Chandler, who rushed for 461 yards and three scores on 102 carries (4.5 YPC), adding 159 yards on 21 receptions.

He also logged the first 100-yard game by a Vikings back since the 2022 season.

In addition to incumbent special teamers and seldom-used players, the Vikings signed former Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin.

Gaskin, 27, did not log a carry in 2023, and he had just 10 totes for 26 yards in 2022. But the former 2019 seventh-round pick did log 315 carries for 1,196 yards (3.5 YPC) and six touchdowns across the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The Vikings can also go the economical route with a rookie, either in the draft or free agency.

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