Breaking: Vikings Agree Deal To Sign $10.09 Million Pro Bowl RB to Replace Alex Mattison

Breaking: Vikings Agree Deal To Sign $10.09 Million Pro Bowl RB to Replace Alex Mattison

The Minnesota Vikings cut starting running back Alexander Mattison last week, opening the door for the team to give Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, a player they’ve had their eye on for a while, a chance.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson revealed on March 7 during an appearance on SKOR North’s “Mackey and Judd” podcast that running back is a priority in free agency beginning on March 13 and that Pollard has supporters in high places within the Vikings organization.

“A number of people have a very high regard for Tony Pollard,” Wolfson stated, noting that Pollard’s performance in the Vikings’ 40-3 rout in 2022 had some enduring influence in Minnesota. “Just because Tony Pollard has some fans in Eagan doesn’t mean they’re going to chase him.”

That day at U.S. Bank Stadium, Pollard, who was Ezekiel Elliott’s backup, took up the most of the effort. He ran for 80 yards on 15 rushes and added six receptions for 109 yards and two scores in the air.

Despite Elliott’s absence, he amassed over 1,000 rushing yards, 371 receiving yards, and 12 total touchdowns in the 2022 season, earning him a spot in the Pro Bowl.

After serving as a one-year, $10.09 million franchise tag holder, Pollard is coming off a disappointing season in his debut season as a starter.

He is about to enter free agency in a market that is so competitive that the Vikings may be able to sign him for less money if the Cowboys decide to pursue a star running back like Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, or Saquon Barkley.

Tony Pollard’s Upside in the Passing Game

Pollard, a 2019 fourth-round selection, has always performed better than expected.

Before Pollard started for the Cowboys, he spent two seasons as the fourth-highest graded running back by Pro Football Focus. As Elliott’s change-of-pace back throughout his first four seasons in the NFL, he averaged 5.13 yards per carry.

After assuming control of the rushing game in the previous season, Pollard displayed considerable regression. Though he still gained over 1,000 yards from rushing, his career-low 4.0 yards per carry were achieved. Last season, Pollard was PFF’s fifteenth-highest ranked back.

Pollard’s difficulties have been attributed on Mike McCarthy, who has come under fire for failing to take use of the running back’s ability to set up plays.

But the Vikings should be drawn to Pollard because of his skill in the passing game, not only his rushing abilities. Last season, he got a lot of action as a receiver, hauling in 55 catches for 311 yards and three touchdowns.

To Kevin O’Connell, Pollard’s value as a dependable pass-blocker is greater.

Among running backs with 60 or more pass-blocking snaps, he had the fourth-highest PFF pass-blocking grade (70.6). With the second-highest number of pass-block snaps (115) of any running back in the NFL, Pollard was a regular starter in Dallas.

Ty Chandler, who struggled in pass protection during his second NFL season, may not be the bell cow in favor of Pollard, who has demonstrated his abilities in many areas of the game.

Austin Ekeler, D’Andre Swift Also RBs Vikings Could Target

The second group of running backs, which includes Austin Ekeler, D’Andre Swift, and Pollard, comes after the top three free-agent running backs in Barkley, Henry, and Jacobs. According to Wolfson, the Vikings are considering using their second-tier running backs.

Pollard and Swift were predicted by PFF to sign contracts worth more than $6 million annually, while Ekeler, the oldest player at 28 years old, was predicted to sign a contract worth $4.5 million annually.

The Star Tribune claims that by cutting Mattison, the Vikings were able to save $3.35 million, money that might be used to sign another running back.

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