The Vikings surprisingly keep their 1

Many players on the 2022 Minnesota Vikings entered free agency in an unknown direction, especially on the defensive side of the ball. A disastrous defensive season later led to a number of changes. The biggest names were Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson. Defensive tackle Tomlinson has agreed to join the Cleveland Browns, receiving a huge contract from former Vikings coach Kevin Stefanski.

Peterson, a cornerback, will join the Pittsburgh Steelers after two years with the Vikings. He will also be reunited with head coach Mike Tomlin, who previously worked for the Vikings. Linebacker Kendricks spent the first eight seasons of his career in Minnesota and is now headed to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Vikings surprisingly keep their 1

Meanwhile, offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury was the only starter to leave the team, but the Vikings re-signed him. Additionally, Adam Thielen was released and is now a free agent for the first time in his career since he was an undrafted rookie in 2013.

The Vikings surprisingly keep their 1
January 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mathison (2) runs off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Solid Field. Mandatory credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

However, a few backups also played on deals that expired last year, e.g Alexander Mathison. The Vikings will rejoin the Vikings in their second season under head coach Kevin O’Connell. Tom Pelissero who reported on Wednesday.

“Another leading domino falls. Alexander Mathison has agreed to a two-year contract to remain with the Vikings, according to a source. The deal is worth $7 million, which can reach $8 million with $6.35 million guaranteed.”

Mattison spent his first four seasons in the league with the Vikings, who selected him in the third round of the 2019 draft. He had 1,670 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 404 carries with the Vikings, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. The running back is also effective in the passing game, where he has accumulated 526 receiving yards and 3 scores over the years.

August 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion (14) tackles Ty Chandler (32) during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Retaining Mathison is a surprising move to many, as the team had five shortstops on the roster in 2022, at least one more than usual, and plans to bring them all back this coming offseason. Just last year, Minnesota drafted Ty Chandler in the 6th round, and people expected him to be Mattison’s replacement.

It will be interesting to see what the move means in the coming days. Dalvin Cook, the Purple team’s star running back, has been surrounded by trade rumors recently. Signing Mattison could be a sign he’s on his way out.

October 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) and running back Alexander Mathison (2) look on before the game against the Chicago Bears at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Another reason to re-sign Mattison is that the Vikings may prefer continuity at the position over a potential upgrade or cheaper option. Paying a backup $3.5 million a season is a steep price to pay in today’s NFL, where top teams, especially Super Bowl champions, pay peanuts for their lead backs for good reason.

Running backs are interchangeable. A good back can be found in the late draft every year. Just last year, the Chiefs drafted Isiah Pacheco in the 7th round, and he was a great top quarterback on Patrick Mahomes’ team.

Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) rushes the ball after a touchdown as Mark Andrews (89) looks on and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Sisco (5) slows to his feet after a fourth quarter stop attempt. regular season NFL football game on Sunday, November 27, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jaguars beat the Ravens 28-27. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Keeping Mathison could make sense if the Vikings want to switch to a more pass-heavy offense, which would also explain the signing of Josh Oliver, who is an excellent blocker in the run game. Only four teams had a higher passing percentage than the 2022 Vikings, Buccaneers, Chargers, Bengals and Chiefs. Looking at the quarterbacks on those teams, it makes a lot of sense. Most teams have passed the ball a lot on a Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady or Joe Burrow roster.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins ‚Äč‚Äčthrived in a more run-heavy offense, being one of the league’s elite play-action quarterbacks. It might make a lot of sense to entertain some of Mike Zimmer’s ideas. Controlling the ball by running the ball more efficiently and protecting defenses in that way is a patented Zimmer strategy, especially with a quarterback built perfectly for it.

The coming days should reveal more about the Vikings’ strategy. One or both of CJ Hamm and Dalvin Cook could be out of the lineup after the move to keep Matheson. The Vikings would save almost $8 million if they traded Cook, and releasing winger Ham would save $3.05 million.

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Yannick Eckardt is a soccer fan who loves numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team, despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves to watch sitcoms and classic rock is his preferred music genre. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt:

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