Source: Vikings release running back Alexander Mattison ahead of free agency

INDIANAPOLIS — After watching Alexander Mattison struggle in an elevated role last fall, the Vikings informed the running back on Thursday that they will be releasing him ahead of free agency. A source confirmed move to the Pioneer Press after it initially was reported by ESPN.

It was an underwhelming performance for Mattison last season after taking over for star running back Dalvin Cook in the backfield. Though he was expected to see an uptick in production as the lead back, Mattison never gained traction, finishing with 180 carries for 700 yards.

The writing was on the wall when Mattison lost his starting job to Ty Chandler toward the end of last season.

Asked about the position group this week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, head coach Kevin O’Connell praised Chandler for his growth, briefly mentioned Mattison by name, then seemingly left the door open for an addition at some point.

“It’s always a position that I think whether free agency or the draft we’re looking to continue to infuse talent and different skill sets into that room,” O’Connell said. “I feel good about what those guys were able to do, and more importantly, hopefully what we can build on from there.”

The decision to release Mattison will net the Vikings around $3.35 million in cap room.

That might afford the Vikings the ability to spend on the position in free agency.

Some of the options that will be available include big names like Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, and Tony Pollard, among a handful of others. There might be an opportunity to sign a player to a bargain deal given how running backs have been squeezed out of the pay structure as of late.

“Just because they’re a lower value position right now doesn’t mean they don’t provide a great impact to a team,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. “There’s a lot of exciting options on the market, and we’ll take a look at them like we take a look at every position.”

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