Report: Vikings Plan to Re-Sign Running Back

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The rushing attack has been alarmingly bad since Kevin O’Connell’s arrival as the Vikings’ head coach in 2022. In those two seasons, the Vikings ranked 27th in EPA/run and yards per attempt, and the 3,214 rushing yards placed the group 28th in a leaguewide comparison. It is a huge point of emphasis in the 2024 offseason.

Report: Vikings Plan to Re-Sign Running Back

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
Dec 16, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

2023 was the first season since the draft in 2007 without either Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook on the roster. Aaron Jones was signed to be Minnesota’s new top rusher to replace backup caliber Alexander Mattison after the failed experiment of having him as the RB1. Ty Chandler will support Jones.

Behind the duo, however, the Vikings only employ last year’s practice squad players, Myles Gaskin and DeWayne McBride. Kick returner Kene Nwangwu is another running back on paper, but he hasn’t shown any promise as a halfback.

Report: Vikings Plan to Re-Sign Running Back
Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Cam Akers (31) lowers his head as he is tackled by Carolina Panthers safety Sam Franklin Jr. (42) during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

To combat that hole of a missing RB3, the Vikings are looking to re-sign Cam Akers, according to Charley Walters from the Pioneer Press: “If running back Cam Akers, recovering from Achilles surgery last November, passes an upcoming physical, look for the free agent to re-sign with the Vikings.”

It is the first time the Akers’ name has gotten some traction this offseason, besides some minor speculation about whether adding him as a depth player makes sense.

The running back is coming off his second torn Achilles tendon suffered in last year’s win over the Atlanta Falcons. An injured Achilles is no longer a death sentence for NFL players, although running backs need every bit of their explosiveness to extend their careers.

Sep 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (10) tackles Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (3) during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Akers was a 2020 second-rounder out of Florida State. Kevin O’Connell was on the Rams’ coaching staff for two more seasons after the franchise selected Akers.

The now 25-year-old runner played in a committee in his debut season, rushing for 625 yards and two scores in 13 games. He added 272 yards from scrimmage in two postseason games. A few weeks before the 2021 season began, Akers tore his Achilles. Akers returned to form and made a miraculous comeback in the final regular season game. He also starred in the playoffs for the eventual Super Bowl winners, adding roughly 250 scrimmage yards in four games.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (3) rushes against Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton (57) during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In 2022, Akers was expected to be the unquestioned starter in the backfield, but that didn’t happen. The club and the athlete wanted a divorce, though no deal could be found, so Akers stayed with the Rams and has some phenomenal games to close out the season, logging three straight 100-yard rushing games and a total of 786 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2022.

When Kyren Williams emerged as the number one running back in 2023, Sean McVay’s Rams shipped Akers to Minnesota for a late-round pick swap. The Vikings stayed committed to Mattison, but Akers’ role slowly expanded because the starter struggled to rush the ball efficiently. Akers rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown in six contests with the Vikings while adding 70 yards as a receiver.

It remains to be seen how much is left of Akers’ once-exciting explosiveness, but he is familiar with the coaches, the scheme, and many of his teammates. In addition to that, Akers will be cheap; the veteran minimum is a plausible salary.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this article.

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Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and prefers Classic rock over other genres. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt