Vikings Urged to Sign Matchup Nightmare to Help Replace Dalvin Cook

J.D. McKissic

Getty CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin suggested the Vikings to sign former Commanders running back J.D. Mckissic.

The Minnesota Vikings have moved on from Dalvin Cook and will attempt to replace his production by committee.

While Alexander Mattison is poised to be the lead back for the first time in his career, the Vikings have few proven options beyond the fifth-year back.

CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, a former agent proposed Minnesota should sign veteran back J.D. McKissic, who could be acquired for the veteran minimum of $1.1 million for this season.

“Minnesota signaled with its release of Cook that it doesn’t intend to commit big money to the position, but new starter Alexander Mattison is owed just $2.4M in 2023, and his reserves are relatively unproven,” Benjamin wrote on June 20. “McKissic is a utility-type veteran best known for his pass catching, making him a potential plug-and-play third-down option out of camp.”

McKissic, 29, has proven to be one of the most productive pass-catching running backs in the league. Across the 2020 and 2021 seasons, McKissic reeled in 123 receptions for 986 receiving yards for the Washington Commanders — ranking third among running backs behind only Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler.

Kevin O’Connell has touted the value of having diverse pieces in his offense, and McKissic’s versatility as a former college receiver would give O’Connell a receiving threat out of the backfield that could also line up in the slot or outside.

The Vikings backfield has potential in Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu and seventh-round rookie DeWayne McBride, however, McKissic would bring surefire abilities primarily in the passing game but also as a change-of-pace back.

J.D. McKissic’s Evolution Into a Dual-Threat RB

Undrafted out of Arkansas State in 2016, McKissic has been the epitome of a journeyman in the NFL. His first touch in the NFL was a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown with the Atlanta Falcons during the preseason.

It wasn’t enough to earn him a roster spot as a raw prospect coming out of college, however, he was signed to the practice squad and spent the majority of the 2016 season with the Falcons. Atlanta released McKissic in December, leading to the Seattle Seahawks signing him off waivers. McKissic earned a spot in Seattle for the following two seasons.

In his 2017 debut, McKissic scored a pair of touchdowns in a 46-18 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

McKissic didn’t make the final roster in 2019, prompting the Detroit Lions to sign him that season. McKissic saw his largest share of carries that season yet as his evolution as a running back in the NFL had been realized. He posted 38 carries for 205 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry that season, earning himself a two-year contract with the Commanders the following season.

McKissic carved out a dominant role in Washington the following two seasons before he reached free agency. He had agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract with the Buffalo Bills before backing out of the deal after the Commanders had offered him an identical contract to stay in Washington.

He’s battled injury throughout his career, most recently a neck injury that landed him on the injured reserve after eight weeks in 2022. The Commanders released him in March as he remains unsigned.

 Vikings Looking for RB Room to Step Up to Replace Dalvin Cook

After Cook had struggled with efficiency running the ball last season, the Vikings are hoping to reinvent their run game with a committee approach to the backfield.

Chandler is considered a candidate to make a significant leap in his second NFL season.

“Ty’s obviously a great athlete — it’s the reason why we brought him here, but he’s a real pro. He’s been working really hard at it, as has that whole [running back] group,” offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said on June 7, per “It’s a really special group of guys as far as Alex [Mattison], Kene [Nwangwu] and Ty, and then of course [fullback] C.J. [Ham] being involved with that, as well.”