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Vikings cut running back Alexander Mattison: Here are some intriguing RB options in free agency

Vikings 2024 offseason outlook: Biggest questions and storylines
Vikings 2024 offseason outlook: Biggest questions and storylines 01:17

MINNEAPOLIS — Just one year after signing a new deal with the Minnesota Vikings, running back Alexander Mattison has been released.

Mattison, drafted by the team in 2019, stepped in as the starting RB last season after the team released Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook.

The release comes at a time when the Vikings heavily favor the passing attack. Mattison's overall performance last season was lackluster and he would end the 17-game stretch with zero rushing touchdowns and an average of 3.9 yards per carry. 

The release certainly brings about questions regarding the position. Who will be the next starting RB for the Vikings?

The Vikings do have a potential starter in Ty Chandler, who showed explosiveness when given the chance last season. At the same time, the team may want to look to free agency to find a surefire starter — complementing whoever they go with at quarterback.

RELATED: Who are the top quarterback prospects for the Vikings in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Here's a look at some intriguing (however unlikely) RB options available when free agency begins.  

[DISCLAIMER: This list was partly inspired by CBS Sports reporting

Wishful thinking… 

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
: 27 
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6 feet, 232 pounds

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings
Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants rushes for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. David Berding / Getty Images


Minnesota Vikings fans know Barkley well, unfortunately. He scored two touchdowns in the Giants' win over Minnesota in the first round of the 2022-23 playoffs. There's no doubt he's an impact player.

2023 wasn't his greatest season but Barkley was still a top-10 RB.

If signed, he'd instantly improve Minnesota's rushing attack. Not only that, he's dangerous as a pass catcher.

But with a lot of the Vikings' cap space expected to be focused on other positions, the likelihood of Minnesota picking Barkley up is low.  

Expensive runners up: 

  • Derrick Henry (Tennesse Titans): At 30-years-old, he's on the older side for a RB but that didn't stop him from running for over 1,100 yards and notching 12 touchdowns last season. Plus, he's downright massive for an NFL RB, standing 6 foot 3 and weighing nearly 250 pounds. 
  • Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders): Jacobs has been a productive RB his entire NFL career. Last year, Jacobs breached 1,100 scrimmage yards for the fifth straight year. CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani has him as the No. 1 RB available this offseason. 

Not completely out of the question...

Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers)
: 28
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 5 foot 10, 200 pounds  

Dolphins Chargers Football
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs past Miami Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Mark J. Terrill / AP

Ekeler is getting up there in age for a running back and coming off a disappointing season, so he might be a more realistic option for Minnesota.  With that said, he's not too far removed from leading the NFL in touchdowns from scrimmage for two straight years. 

RELATED: What positions do the Minnesota Vikings need to address heading into 2024 season?

Due to the potential for another breakout season, Ekeler could demand a sizable contract too costly for Minnesota to consider. 

Runners up: 

  • Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys)
  • D'Andre Swift (Philadelphia Eagles)

Realistic probability…

Zach Moss (Indianapolis Colts)
AGE: 26
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 5 foot 9, 205 pounds 

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Zach Moss #21 of the Indianapolis Colts runs for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images

Moss had a great season last year in relief of Jonathan Taylor, recording nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. 

Taylor will demand a lot of snaps for the Colts next year, so Moss might not get another contract there and will be looking for a bigger role — Minnesota could provide that for him. Plus, Moss might be a more affordable free agency option due to his minimal sample size. 

Runners up:

  • Gus Edwards (Baltimore Ravens)
  • AJ Dillon (Green Bay Packers)
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