Alexander Mattison

Zamir White Expected To Be Raiders’ RB Starter; Jack Jones ‘Set’ As Starting CB

One of the more eventful days in running back history, transactionally speaking, occurred March 11. More than a third of the league either signed a veteran starter or lost one, with several clubs in both camps. The Raiders ended up only in the first section, losing Josh Jacobs to the Packers hours into the legal tampering period.

More moves affecting 2023 starters occurred soon after, as the Raiders added primary Vikings first-stringer Alexander Mattison a week into free agency. While Mattison worked as Minnesota’s initial Dalvin Cook replacement last year, the Raiders might not be readying a competition to fill the spot Jacobs held for five years.

[RELATED: Raiders’ Josh Jacobs Offer Not Close To Packers’ Proposal]

The Raiders brought in Mattison as a player who will work as a sidekick to Zamir White, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore. White filled in for Jacobs as the Las Vegas starter over the final four games last season. He totaled 100-plus rushing yards in two of those tilts. Two seasons remain on White’s rookie contract, giving him a path to take over as a multiyear option for the Raiders.

The Vikings released Mattison one year into a two-year contract; the Raiders gave him a one-year, $2MM deal. The former third-round pick’s run as Cook’s replacement did not go well. While the Vikings look to have picked the right offseason to jettison Cook, their run game ranked 29th. Mattison averaged 3.9 yards per carry and did not score a rushing touchdown. The Vikings joined the Raiders in investing a 2022 Day 3 pick on a back (Ty Chandler), and Jacobs’ Green Bay arrival led Aaron Jones to Minneapolis. Mattison, 25, fared better as a Cook spot starter in prior years; the Raiders will give him a chance to mix in behind White, who is going into his age-25 season.

Elsewhere on the Las Vegas depth chart, Bonsignore adds Jack Jones is “set” as a starting cornerback. The ex-Patriots draftee is on track to work as one of the Raiders’ boundary starters, with a competition in the works for the role alongside he and slot cog Nate Hobbs. Considering where Jones stood prior to the Raiders claiming him, a route to a clear-cut starting role is interesting.

Jones undoubtedly benefited from ownership’s decision to remove Antonio Pierce‘s interim tag. Pierce coached Jones at both Long Beach Poly High and then at Arizona State. Jones, 26, ran into off-field trouble in college and in the NFL. An arrest for trying to bring a loaded gun onto a plane overshadowed Jones’ 2023 offseason, and the 2022 fourth-round pick fell out of favor with Bill Belichick late last season. The Patriots waived Jones after he had missed curfew in Germany.

The Raiders upped the talented corner’s usage rate shortly after the November waiver claim, using him as a starter over the final three games. Jones delivered a memorable stretch, which included pick-sixes in back-to-back games. A 2022 starter who encountered speedbumps last year — which also featured an IR stint following a September hamstring injury — Jones is on steadier ground with his second NFL team.

The team let Amik Robertson walk (to the Lions) in free agency and did not draft a corner until Round 4. The Raiders used fourth- and seventh-round picks at the position, but the team is planning to have Jones and Hobbs as locked-in starters. Jakorian Bennett and the reacquired Brandon Facyson may be the early leaders for the other boundary CB job, Bonsignore adds, with the rookies (Decamerion Richardson, M.J. Devonshire) in the mix now as well.

Raiders To Sign RB Alexander Mattison

The running back carousel continues. According to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, the Raiders are signing free agent running back Alexander Mattison. Schultz reported earlier today that the two sides were meeting, with the reporter adding that “multiple teams” were in play for the running back.

[RELATED: Vikings To Release RB Alexander Mattison]

The former third-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career backing up Dalvin Cook in Minnesota. That still meant plenty of carries for Mattison, as he topped 500 yards from scrimmage in each of his first three campaigns.

Mattison’s counting stats took a step back in 2022 when Cook unexpectedly started all 17 games. The Vikings re-signed the backup last offseason before moving on from Cook, leading to Mattison getting a full workload for the first time in his career. Ultimately, the fifth-year player wasn’t able to elevate his play with a larger role. He finished the season with only 3.9 yards per carry, and his 4.2 yards per touch tied a career low.

After finishing the season with only 892 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns, the Vikings moved on from Mattison last month. The organization has since signed Aaron Jones as a replacement.

With Josh Jacobs having left for the Packers, the Raiders had a hole atop their depth chart. Zamir White looked capable when he had a chance to start at the end of this past season, with the former fourth-round pick averaging more than 114 yards from scrimmage in his four games as the lead back. Mattison provides the Raiders with another capable running back, but neither of the players possess the same pedigree as the player they’ll be replacing.

Vikings To Release RB Alexander Mattison

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, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. Minnesota gave Mattison a two-year, $7MM 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.

Although it was reported at the time that the Vikings fully guaranteed Mattison $6.35MM, they only locked in $3.6MM at signing. A $2.75MM guarantee was set to vest March 15, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling. That means this release will provide the team with $3.35MM in cap savings. Rather than pay Mattison a $3.3MM base salary in 2024, the Vikes will eat $1.25MM in dead money.

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. Mattison, 25, had said he did not expect to re-sign with the Vikings. But his path changed when it became clear the team was done with Cook.

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. Chandler is also 25, despite entering the league three years after Mattison. 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.

Vikings To Start Nick Mullens In Week 15

DECEMBER 14: Dobbs will make a Zach Wilson-like drop on the Vikings’ depth chart. After consideration, O’Connell said Hall will be Mullens’ backup against the Bengals on Saturday. Dobbs will act as Minnesota’s emergency quarterback. Hall will reclaim the QB2 job he held near the season’s midpoint, when Mullens’ IR stay moved the BYU product behind Cousins.

A third-string role is not unusual for Dobbs, who worked in this capacity in Pittsburgh for a bit. But he spent much of last season as Jacoby Brissett‘s Browns backup, finishing the year as the Titans’ emergency starter. The latter run put Dobbs in line to back up Deshaun Watson this season. After both his 2023 trades, Dobbs ended up as a starter. After eight Cardinals starts and four with the Vikes, he will take a seat for the time being. Additionally, the Vikings ruled out starting running back Alexander Mattison due to an ankle sprain.

DECEMBER 12: The Vikings, who entered this season with one of the most durable quarterbacks in NFL history, will soon match the Browns for QB1 volume. Minnesota is set to start Nick Mullens in Week 15, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.

Mullens replaced Josh Dobbs in the Vikings’ 3-0 win over the Raiders. While Dobbs fared well when called upon shortly after the midseason trade, he has struggled in recent weeks. Mullens has been with the Vikings since the team added him just before the 2022 season.

Minnesota will go from Kirk Cousins to Jaren Hall to Dobbs to Mullens as its starting quarterbacks this season. The team turned to Dobbs initially due to a Hall concussion and Mullens residing on IR. The team activated the former 49ers UDFA from IR last month, and he will suddenly become a key factor in the NFC playoff race.

A Southern Miss product Kyle Shanahan once used as San Francisco’s primary starter after Jimmy Garoppolo‘s 2018 ACL tear, Mullens has 17 starts under his belt. He has not started a game since 2021, which came about due to both Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum residing in the COVID-19 protocol that December. Mullens, however, made eight starts in both the 2018 and ’20 seasons.

Just before waiving Kellen Mond in August 2022, the Vikings acquired Mullens from the Raiders to back up Cousins. The team re-signed the reserve arm to a two-year, $4MM deal this offseason. That AAV checked in south of many QB2 contracts this offseason, but the Vikings had not needed to worry about an injury to their starting quarterback since Sam Bradford went down in September 2017. Cousins had never missed a game due to injury in his career prior to the Achilles tear he suffered in October. With Mullens already on IR with a back injury, the team trotted out Hall. But it backstopped the fifth-round rookie with Dobbs, acquired from the Cardinals in a deadline-day pick-swap trade.

Following Dobbs’ four-INT showing in a Week 12 loss to the Bears, Kevin O’Connell said the team would revisit its QB hierarchy during the bye week. With Justin Jefferson coming back in Week 14, the Vikings chose to give Dobbs another chance. Amid the only 3-0 game played indoors in NFL history, O’Connell yanked Dobbs and called in Mullens, whose 9-for-13 showing helped the team escape Las Vegas with a game-winning field goal. The Vikings have not decided if Dobbs or Hall will be Mullens’ backup against the Bengals on Saturday, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com notes.

Mullens, 28, holds a career 65.4% completion rate. Finishing with an impressive 8.3 yards per attempt as a rookie, Mullens carries a career 7.7 mark in that category. Being at the controls for George Kittle‘s then-record season for tight end receiving yards, Mullens has thrown 27 career touchdown passes compared to 23 interceptions. The Vikings will see how viable the sixth-year vet is outside of Shanahan’s system, though O’Connell’s is also derived from the Shanahans/Gary Kubiak family. The Vikes will Mullens the keys as they attempt to either hold onto wild-card real estate or eclipse the Lions in the NFC North.

Latest On Vikings’ RB Room

Cam Akers‘ time in Los Angeles came to an expected end earlier this week when he was dealt to Minnesota. The move has led to questions about the Vikings’ pecking order at the running back spot, but the team’s depth chart appears set to remain the same at the top.

Alexander Mattison took over RB1 duties this offseason when the Vikings released Dalvin Cook, but that move has not yielded success on the ground to date. Minnesota has the league’s least productive run game through Week 2, having totaled just 69 rushing yards. Mattison’s inefficiency is among the causes for that figure, but he is safe in his role as starter even with Akers in the fold.

“We haven’t lost confidence in Alex Mattison,” Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said, via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “I will say that. Unfortunately we’ve had a couple turnovers in the run game where we obviously need to clean that up. Everyone’s aware of that. But we still feel very strongly in Alex and [backup Ty Chandler] and those guys being able to go in and produce. We know we have to be better in the run game. A lot of that starts with us, and the players fundamentally. All those things we’ve addressed, and… I think it will improve dramatically.”

Phillips and head coach Kevin O’Connell are among the Vikings staffers with ties to Akers dating back to their shared time with the Rams. That level of familiarity should help the latter’s acclimation period with his new team, one which figures to use him in a rotational capacity early on. Expectations will be tempered considering the fact Minnesota only needed to swap future Day 3 picks to acquire Akers, but a strong showing in the coming weeks would help his free agent stock considerably ahead of the offseason.

It would also give the team another option in the run game aside from Mattison, whom Seifert notes does not expect to see his role changed with Akers now in the picture. Improvement on the ground in any capacity would be welcomed for the 0-2 Vikings, but it will be interesting to see how the backfield is managed with a former second-round pick (who started 15 of his 30 Rams contests) in place. For now, at least, Mattison is safe atop the RB depth chart.

RB Rumors: Cowboys, Eagles, Mattison

Letting Ezekiel Elliott sign with the Patriots and not making a known entrance into the Jonathan Taylor sweepstakes, the Cowboys are still planning to give one of their in-house running backs the backup job to Tony Pollard. Last year’s third-stringer behind Elliott and Pollard, Malik Davis, may be fighting an uphill battle to merely make Dallas’ 53-man roster. With Rico Dowdle the favorite to be Pollard’s top backup, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill notes Davis may be facing a cut. Dowdle and elusive rookie Deuce Vaughn have outplayed Davis during camp, per Hill, with the latter — a 5-foot-5 sixth-rounder out of Kansas State — flashing in games. Vaughn starred with the Wildcats for three seasons, excelling as both a runner and receiver, and continues to make a case for a role on offense.

Dowdle arrived in the NFL as a 2020 UDFA; Davis joined the Cowboys as a UDFA last year. Dowdle has not logged a regular-season carry since 2020, but it looks like the South Carolina product is poised to change that pattern this season. Here is the latest from the running back scene:

  • The Eagles have a deeper cast of running backs, at least in terms of experience. Philly added both Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift this offseason, and Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott are on track to maintain roles in the defending NFC champions’ crowded backfield. This leaves Trey Sermon as the likeliest odd man out, per The Athletic’s Zach Berman (subscription required). The Eagles added Sermon, a 2021 third-round pick, following his 49ers cut last year but only used him in two games. Sermon could be a practice squad option; he spent much of his first Eagles year as part of that 16-man unit. But the Eagles’ present backfield configuration adds another hurdle for a player once projected to be the 49ers’ Week 1 starter.
  • The Vikings guaranteed 90.7% of Alexander Mattison‘s two-year, $7MM contract — a deal that replaces Dalvin Cook‘s as the top running back pact on the team’s payroll — but incentives will allow the fifth-year back to add to that total. If Mattison clears 750 rushing yards, he would pick up $250K. This applies to each season on the contract, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan notes. That number would bump up to $500K in each year if Mattison notches 1,000 yards. While Mattison has never eclipsed 500 yards in a season, he was never in realistic position to do so. With Cook cut, the longtime RB2 is set for his first season as Minnesota’s starter. The Vikings see Mattison, 25, as a three-down player, Caplan adds, noting the team is determining its RB2. Ty Chandler, kick returner Kene Nwangwu and seventh-round rookie DeWayne McBride are in place behind Mattison.
  • Tarik Cohen is coming off two season-nullifying injuries. The former Bears running back/return man suffered ACL and MCL tears in 2021, and less than a week after Chicago cut him (in May 2022), Cohen suffered an Achilles tear. The former Pro Bowl returner is healthy and ready to work out for teams, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets. The Bears used Cohen regularly as an outlet option for Mitch Trubisky. In 2018, the 5-6 back totaled 725 receiving yards and led the NFL in punt-return yardage. Although RB value has tanked in 2023, Cohen could represent an interesting flier as a passing-down option. Granted, this is not a good time for a back to be seeking a job coming off two season-ending maladies.

Latest On Vikings’ RB Situation

With former star running back Dalvin Cook officially off the team, it’s now apparently the Alexander Mattison-era in Minnesota, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN. Mattison’s opportunities in his first four seasons have been extremely limited due to Cook’s hold on the position, but with Cook a free agent, Mattison now gets the opportunity to perform as a three-down back.

In 2022, Cook and Mattison split nearly all the offensive snaps at running back at about a 75-25 split. Other running backs only saw the field on special teams or in garbage time. Mattison hasn’t been Cook’s RB2 because he is a perfect complement to Cook, Mattison has been the first back off the bench because he has been the team’s second best running back, period. Mattison could likely have earned starts on other teams around the league, if given the opportunity. Instead, he’s mentored behind Cook and taken advantage of the few playing opportunities he’s been given.

In eight games where Mattison has either started or seen significant carries (12 or over), Mattison has 589 rushing yards and three touchdowns. That’s with sporadic opportunities. With consistent starts and usage, Mattison could definitely find a rhythm that makes him a strong three-down back. With Mattison firmly planted in the lead-back role and no other backs getting serious time in 2022, who’s the favorite off the bench in Minnesota?

The one big thing that Mattison lacks in comparison to Cook is explosive speed. The Vikings have heaps of that in both Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu. Chandler impressed many with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash before getting drafted in the fifth round last year out of North Carolina. He only appeared in three games last season, though, spending most of his rookie year on injured reserve.

Nwangwu is already a recognizable name, which is impressive without having made an offensive impact in two seasons. He’s recognizable because Nwangwu has forced his way onto the field as a kick returner, earning second-team All-Pro honors last year. He’s yet to score an offensive touchdown but has three return touchdowns over his first two years in the league.

Elite speed makes both Chandler and Nwangwu ideal complements to Mattison. Chandler likely gets the edge here, though, due to his ability in the passing game. In five seasons of college football, Chandler caught 73 balls for 681 yards and four touchdowns. In opportunities during last year’s preseason, Chandler showed surprising effectiveness running inside, as well. He appears to be the most well-rounded backup to complement Mattison, but after missing so much time last year, he’ll have to prove he can stay on the field and effectively serve as RB2.

Nwangwu could certainly play in the role if needed. He provides the top-end speed that Mattison lacks and showed a bit of promise averaging 4.7 yards per carry on 13 carries as a rookie. What could keep him out of the running is his impact on special teams. Nwangwu’s become such a key special teamer for the Vikings, that they may not want to risk throwing him out on offense consistently.

The only other back on the roster is rookie seventh-round pick DeWayne McBride out of UAB. Against Conference-USA competition, McBride was dominant over his two years as a starter. In those two years, McBride combined for 3,523 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. Somehow both stout and shifty, McBride is hard to bring down, but he doesn’t have the speed to complement Mattison as RB2. The jump to NFL competition could also really challenge McBride as a rookie. He may be best served to bide his time until Mattison’s rookie contract runs out and try to climb the depth chart then.

So, for now, Mattison appears to be the heir apparent to take over for Cook as the team’s lead-back. Minnesota seems ready to trust him in a three-down role for the first time in his career. Behind Mattison, Chandler and Nwangwu will duke it out for the RB2 role. Even though Chandler is the favorite to win the job, Nwangwu’s roster spot is safe due to his elite return abilities. McBride provides the only depth past those three and should, at the very least, end up on the practice squad, if not on the active roster in 2023.

RB Alexander Mattison Didn’t Expect To Re-Sign With Vikings

Alexander Mattison hit free agency this offseason but ended up re-signing with the Vikings. Considering the presence of Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook, Mattison didn’t expect he’d land back in Minnesota.

[RELATED: Vikings To Re-Sign RB Alexander Mattison]

“I actually didn’t think that I’d be back in Minnesota, so it’s a blessing to be back, to be in a place where I spent the first four years of my career and loved it there,” the running back admitted during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via NFL.com’s Michael Baca). “To be there, be a part of this team, this locker room, the ownership, the staff. It’s a great place to be, so I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, and while I’m with this opportunity in front of me, I just see so much upside.”

Things have changed since Mattison inked a new two-year contract. The Vikings ended up moving on from Cook, setting up Mattison to be the full-time starter heading into the 2023 campaign. The 2019 third-round pick has shown that he’s more than capable of leading a running back corps; in six career starts, he’s compiled 693 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.

Considering Cook’s inability to stay in the lineup, Mattison got plenty of looks through his first three seasons in the NFL. He topped 500 yards from scrimmage in each of those three years, including a 2021 campaign where he collected 719 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.

With Cook still leading the way heading into the 2022 campaign, there were reports that the Vikings were shopping their backup RB. Minnesota ended up holding on to the RB2 but got a surprising 17-game season out of the oft-injured Cook in 2022, leading to Mattison compiling a career-low 373 yards from scrimmage (along with a career-high six touchdowns).

With Cook now gone, Mattison will get a shot at the full-time starting gig. The 25-year-old acknowledged that he’s stepped up his offseason game in preparation for an increased workload in 2023.

“Yeah, with that understanding of knowing kind of where my role is going to be and maximize it,” Mattison said. “I’ve been a lot more prepared in the way of understanding where I’m going to be at in the playbook, where I’m going to have to be at physically, my stamina. It’s just a whole bunch that I have to now take into account but without applying too much pressure, of course, because this is a game of ball that we have grown to love and grown to adapt to at all different levels. I’m definitely comfortable as a professional athlete and understanding what I have to do to get the job done. Now just cranking that thing up and getting ready for this opportunity that I have in front of me.”

Vikings Likely To Move On From Dalvin Cook

More than three months have passed since Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah stopped short of guaranteeing Dalvin Cook would be back with the team for a seventh season. The Pro Bowl running back remains on Minnesota’s roster, but it does not look like that will be the case for too much longer.

As they did with Za’Darius Smith, the Vikings are hoping to collect an asset for Cook. Smith stood in limbo alongside Cook for several weeks, but the Vikings ended that uncertain period by dealing the edge rusher to the Browns in a pick-swap deal that brought back only 2024 and 2025 fifth-round picks. A Cook trade package likely would not bring too much back to Minnesota, if the short-lived Austin Ekeler trade market is any indication, but the Vikings still look to be pursuing that effort.

Be it via trade or release, ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert notes the Vikings are likely set to close the book on what has been a successful Cook partnership. Minnesota agreed to terms with longtime backup Alexander Mattison in March. While the fifth-year running back’s deal is quite modest — two years, $7MM, even less than the Broncos are paying Samaje Perine — the Vikes guaranteed the long-running RB2 $6.35MM. With a Justin Jefferson contract in the cards, potentially by Week 1, Minnesota authorizing this guarantee for Mattison and keeping Cook’s $12.6MM-per-year extension on the books might be a bridge too far. After his signing, Mattison said he did so with an “understanding how it’s all laid out and how it’s all going to work out.”

That said, Seifert adds the Vikings have been in talks with Cook on a pay cut ahead of his age-28 season. This would also seemingly be contingent on a role reduction. Adofo-Mensah said in April the Vikings could “in theory” run back the Cook-Mattison pair, but they have not previously formed much of a committee. Mattison has generally served as a fill-in for Cook when he misses time. The former third-round pick has not offered the ceiling Cook provides, but he has also served as one of the game’s best backups. Mattison, 25 in June, is also three years younger than Cook and has 474 career touches. Cook, who is coming off shoulder surgery, has accumulated 1,503 in six seasons as Minnesota’s starter.

As we are now past June 1, it will cost the Vikings less to move on. They can trade Cook and pick up $11MM or release him and gain $9MM. The trade scenario, however, will be tough to complete due to Cook’s $10.4MM base salary. That figure sits as the third-highest among backs this year. Another team would likely ask the Vikings to pick up some of Cook’s salary. This scenario fetched the Broncos (Von Miller) and Bears (Robert Quinn) better draft capital in deals, but it is unknown how willing Adofo-Mensah is to follow this path. Another team could also acquire Cook and restructure his through-2025 contract, but absent a robust trade market, a suitor could bet on the Vikes cutting him. The team holds just more than $9.7MM in cap space.

The Dolphins are the only team to be connected to Cook via trade, and while they picked up the most money on a post-June 1 cut (Byron Jones) this year, Miami still drafted Devon Achane in Round 3 after re-signing Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and Myles Gaskin. Still, Cook is a South Florida native who would upgrade the Dolphins’ 2023 backfield.

As for the Vikings, they used a seventh-round pick on running back DeWayne McBride and still roster 2022 fifth-rounder Ty Chandler and 2021 fourth-rounder Kene Nwangwu. Cook could soon be an interesting domino as aspiring contenders assemble their rosters. While the door is not entirely closed on Cook staying in Minnesota, a divorce is likely coming.

Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah On RB Situation, Za’Darius Smith

The Vikings made a strong contractual commitment to longtime backup running back Alexander Mattison when the new league year opened in March, just days after reports surfaced indicating that the team was considering trading RB1 Dalvin Cook. When asked if he would have signed Mattison to a two-year, $7MM deal ($6.35M guaranteed) if he knew Cook would still be on the roster, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said that the two players can continue to co-exist, just as they have done for the past four years.

“I think in theory they could exist, of course,” Adofo-Mensah said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Different style of backs. Again, we talk about the systems we’re trying to play. Together, they’re different style of backs. They could fit complementary together, for sure.”

Nonetheless, Adofo-Mensah appeared to suggest that, even if Cook is back with Minnesota in 2023, it would not be on his current deal, which will pay him $10.4MM in 2023.

“Conversations are always ongoing with [Cook],” the GM said. “We’re trying to be solutions-oriented, always trying to put the roster together within our constraints.”

Of Cook’s $10.4MM payout, only $2MM is guaranteed as of the time of this writing. That amount became guaranteed on March 17, since Cook was still a member of the club on that date. As Florio posits, however, the team really had no way to avoid that obligation; it was already guaranteed for injury, and Cook was unlikely to pass a physical due to a lingering shoulder ailment.

As such, the fact that Cook remains on the club post-March 17 does not shed much light on his future in Minnesota, and Florio believes a trade or release is still a strong possibility. After all, the remainder of Cook’s 2023 salary does not become guaranteed until the start of the regular season. The Dolphins may no longer be interested in Cook after re-signing Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, but other RB-needy clubs will doubtlessly be tempted by the four-time Pro Bowler, especially if those clubs are unable to land a quality back in the draft.

On a related note, Adofo-Mensah said that conversations are also ongoing with LB Za’Darius Smith (Twitter link via ESPN’s Kevin Seifert). Smith requested his release last month, though it was reported at the time that the club had no intention of obliging. The edge rusher is under contract through 2024, and Seifert suggests that Smith, like Cook, could be a trade asset.