Many folks (myself included) went into the 2022 NFL season thinking the Vikings RB room could be one of if not the deepest groups of running backs in the entire league. However, when the dust settled, the Vikings finished the season ranked 27th in rushing attempts, 28th in rushing yards, and 25th in yards per attempt. Because of that, there are questions revolving around Minnesota’s running backs heading into the offseason, and the group could look completely different in 2023.
Dalvin Cook played more games in 2022 than he previously had throughout his entire NFL career, but he looked a step slower than he did during the prime years of 2019 and 2020. Because of that, there could be a chance that the Vikings opt to cut the veteran RB prior to the season’s start.
According to Over the Cap, Cook carries a cap hit of $14,101,272 into the 2023 season. That includes a pre-June 1st dead cap number of $6,202,545 as well as a dead cap number of $3,101,273 in 2024. However, by cutting him here is how much money Minnesota can save over the next three years:2023: $7,898,7272024: $12,500,0002025: $14,500,000
It has long been rumored that 2022 would be Alexander Mattison’s final year in Minnesota as he pursues an opportunity to become a starting RB in 2023. However, if the Vikings cut Cook, perhaps Minnesota becomes his best chance at earning that RB1 role.
On the other hand, Mattison was less than impressive during his carries in 2022. Mattison ran a career-low 74 times in 2022, earning 283 yards (also a career-low) and 5 TDs. Have the Vikings seen enough to sign him to another contract and hand him the keys to the backfield? I have my doubts.
That brings us to Ty Chandler, who seems to be the heir-apparent to the Vikings backfield. After a ridiculously productive final collegiate season with the North Carolina Tar Heels, he was selected by the Vikings in fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Chandler didn’t see much action during the regular season, partly because of a broken thumb suffered in Week 4 that landed him on IR, but he put together some very impressive preseason performances. Granted, preseason is not exactly a reliable measurement for regular season production. However, Minnesota clearly likes what they see with him due to their selection of him in the draft. If Cook leaves, he is the most likely guy to land the RB1 job in 2022.
Finally, if the Vikings part ways with Cook and Mattison this offseason, they could look to draft a running back for the third consecutive year. There are a number of talented backs in this draft, with a few even carrying the potential to be first-round picks.
If the Vikings try to draft a running back, don’t expect it to happen until Day 3, especially considering they should have a few compensatory picks in the later rounds. One player to keep an eye on actually played his college ball at the University of Minnesota: Mohamed Ibrahim. After a torn Achilles in 2021, he bounced back in a big way for the 2022 season, recording 320 carries for 1665 yards. He also led the entire country with 20 rushing touchdowns.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.