Alexander Mattison

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,’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’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,’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.

Vikings To Re-Sign RB Alexander Mattison

The first few days of free agency have seen a number of running backs switch teams, but one free agent is staying put. Alexander Mattison is re-signing with the Vikings, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Vikings Considering Dalvin Cook Trade?]

Mattison is inking a new two-year deal with Minnesota, per Pelissero. The new contract is worth $7MM and can hit $8MM via incentives. The deal includes $6.35MM in guaranteed money.

The 2019 third-round pick has established himself as one of the NFL’s top backup running backs, but considering the presence of Dalvin Cook, it was uncertain if Mattison would stick around Minnesota. Last offseason, there were reports that the Vikings were open to moving the backup RB, and that same report hinted that Mattison would be open to a move that offered more playing time.

The Vikings ended up holding on to their running back depth for the 2022 campaign, and it was a surprise when they got 17 games from the oft-injured Cook. As a result, Mattison was limited to a career-low 374 yards from scrimmage, although he did contribute a career-high six rushing touchdowns.

Mattison proved his value in previous seasons, topping 500 yards from scrimmage each season between 2019 and 2021. The 24-year-old has also compiled 693 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in his six career starts, showing that he’s more than capable of replacing a player of Cook’s caliber in the lineup.

Recent reports indicated that the Vikings could be shopping Cook, who is under club control through 2025 thanks to the five-year, $63MM extension he signed in September 2020. Mattison’s new deal certainly isn’t unreasonable for a high-caliber backup, but you’ve got to wonder if the Vikings will be willing to commit all that money to the RB position.

Vikings Considering Dalvin Cook Trade?

Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah recently stopped short of guaranteeing that RB Dalvin Cook would be back with the team in 2023, and Jeremy Fowler of says multiple clubs believe Minnesota has entertained trade discussions on the four-time Pro Bowler (subscription required).

Cook, 27, is under club control through 2025 thanks to the five-year, $63MM extension he signed in September 2020. That accord makes him the fourth-highest-paid RB in the league in terms of AAV, but his production has justified the splurge on a generally devalued position. Over the past four seasons, which all culminated in Pro Bowl acclaim, the Florida State product has averaged 1,256 rushing yards per year while maintaining a YPC rate over 4.6. He has also added roughly 350 receiving yards per season, and he amassed 30 total touchdowns across the 2019-20 campaigns.

On the other hand, the Vikings are in a difficult salary cap situation despite the recent cuts of Cameron Dantzler, Adam Thielen, and Eric Kendricks, and trading Cook would result in a cap savings of nearly $8MM (though it would also come with a dead cap charge of over $6MM). Plus, Cook’s YPC dropped to 4.4 in 2022, which is a solid mark but which nonetheless represents the lowest single-season average of his career. He did suit up for all 18 of Minnesota’s games in 2022 — the first time he ever enjoyed perfect attendance — though he typically misses at least some time due to injury and could be sidelined for much, if not all, of the offseason program and training camp due to shoulder surgery.

Longtime Cook backup, Alexander Mattison, is eligible for free agency for the first time in his career. As Fowler notes, Mattison is in line for a role as a full-time starter somewhere, and that might just be in Minnesota. The 2019 third-rounder would doubtlessly be much less expensive than Cook, but he has shown promise as an understudy and is obviously already familiar with the team’s offense. Fowler reports that the Vikes are indeed attempting to re-sign Mattison.

Cook is the second high-profile, well-compensated back whose name has surfaced in recent trade rumors. Last week, we heard that the Titans were shopping Derrick Henry, though a subsequent report suggested otherwise.

Vikings Open To Trading Alexander Mattison

With Dalvin Cook signed to a lucrative extension, his veteran backup may not be in the Vikings’ post-2022 plans. Alexander Mattison might not be in Minnesota’s plans for this season, with the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson noting the team is open to trading him (Twitter link).

At least 12 teams have called on the fourth-year running back, Tomasson adds (via Twitter). That would create value here, but the Vikings also like the 215-pound back as their primary backup behind Cook. While it may not be easy to pry Mattison away, this is now a situation to monitor.

No extension talks between Mattison and the Vikings have taken place. Considering the money tied to Cook ($12.6MM AAV), it is unsurprising a regime that did not draft Mattison would view him as replaceable long-term. Making just $965K in 2022, Mattison is going into a contract year.

Cook’s backup is interested in becoming a starter, per Tomasson. While a trade is not certain, Mattison leaving as a 2023 free agent in an effort to forge a clearer pathway to a starting gig would make sense for the former third-round pick. Mattison, 24, has spelled the oft-injured Cook at points during each of the Vikings’ past three seasons and accounted himself fairly well during that span.

Mattison has surpassed 400 rushing yards in each of his three NFL slates; he averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry in 2019 and ’20 and scored a career-high four touchdowns in 2021. The Boise State product has three 100-yard games on his resume over the past two years.

Running back value has obviously nosedived over the past several years, but it would be interesting to see how Mattison would fare away from Cook’s shadow. The Vikings may also prioritize the insurance Mattison provides, however, making a deal tougher to complete.

Despite Minnesota hiring a new GM-HC combo (Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell), the team’s offense did not change much, personnel-wise, this offseason. The Vikings should be in the mix to vie for a playoff spot, and Mattison — considering Cook’s history with minor injuries — has proven to help past Minnesota editions. The team does roster second-year back Kene Nwangwu (13 carries, 61 yards as a rookie) and used a fifth-rounder this year on Ty Chandler.

Vikings Not Expected To Extend RB Alexander Mattison

It sounds like Alexander Mattison will definitely hit free agency following the upcoming season. Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter) doesn’t expect the Vikings to extend the running back before the start of the upcoming campaign. The RB told the reporter that he’s “not aware” of any talks between his camp and the Vikings front office, and Tomasson hints that the RB will likely test the open market in pursuit of a starting gig.

Mattison was a third-round pick by the Vikings in 2019, and he’s transformed into a necessary backup for his oft-injured teammate, Dalvin Cook. In six career starts, Mattison has collected 693 yards from scrimmage and five total touchdowns on 140 touches. Those numbers account for a good portion of his career stats, and while he’s often playing behind a workhorse starter, he’s shown he can be productive when he gets the bulk of his team’s carries.

The 24-year-old set a number of career highs in 2021, running for 491 yards and three touchdowns while hauling in another 32 receptions. Pro Football Focus graded him as a below-average halfback, although his grade was partly dragged down by poor scores in both pass blocking and (especially) run blocking.

Two summers ago, the Vikings signed Cook to a five-year, $63MM deal, and it’s unlikely the front office will want to commit a whole lot more to the position. The organization used a fourth-round pick on Kene Nwangwu last year and a fifth-round pick on Ty Chandler this year, so they’re well positioned to replace Mattison’s spot on the depth chart.

Barring an unexpected breakout in 2022, Mattison probably can’t expect a significant pay day. The three free agent RBs who topped $5MM AAV this offseason were Leonard Fournette, Chase Edmonds, and Cordarrelle Patterson, and they each have more starting experience than Mattison. If a team truly believes in his potential, he could see a contract that more resembles J.D. McKissic‘s deal with Washington. McKissic has more starting experience and is an elite pass-catching back (including an 80-catch campaign in 2020), and he ended up inking a two-year, $7MM deal.