Vikings Part Ways with Starting RB

Nov 19, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings re-signed their first pending free agent by bringing back safety Theo Jackson.

This week, the Vikings have made their first cut of the offseason by releasing their former starting RB Alexander Mattison. The 25-year-old running back signed a two-year deal with the Vikings last offseason and replaced Dalvin Cook in the starting lineup for much of the 2023 season. Now, he will hit the open market again in search of a new team.

Vikings Release Alexander Mattison

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The release was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, who tweeted, “Vikings informed RB Alexander Mattison today that they are releasing him, per source. Mattison took over last season for Dalvin Cook and ran for 700 yards and caught 30 passes. Now he becomes a free agent again, like last year when he signed a two-year deal with Minnesota.”

Mattison was selected by Minnesota in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Boise State, and he began his career as Cook’s backup. However, after Cook was released last offseason, the RB2 took over the RB1 role for 2023 and recorded career highs in both carries and rushing yards.

However, Mattison did not record a single rushing touchdown in 2023, and his rushing average of 3.9 yards per carry led Minnesota to turn a large portion of the carries over to second-year back Ty Chandler over the final half of the season.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham (left) hugs running back Alexander Mattison (2) after losing a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Initially, it seemed that Mattison would remain with the team in 2024 because of a belief that he would carry a $4.6 million cap hit with $4 million of that being dead money that could not be saved against the cap. However, $2.75 million of that cap hit would have become guaranteed had he still been on the roster after March 15th.

So, instead of only saving $600,000 by cutting Mattison, it appears that Minnesota will actually be able to free up $3.35 million against the salary cap for this offseason. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune had the scoop:

This move not only frees up a decent chunk of cap space for Minnesota just a couple weeks before free agency, but it also ensures that Chandler will play a huge role in the team’s rushing plans for 2024. The Vikings could be very active in the running back market this offseason either in free agency or the draft to try and fill their RB2 role.

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah (1) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In total, Mattison recorded 584 carries for 2370 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 100 passes for an additional 718 yards and six touchdowns during his time in Minnesota. The running back now has a chance to catch on with a new franchise with the legal tampering period beginning on March 11th.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap and Pro Football Reference helped with this article.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.