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These Three Players Could Instantly Fix The Vikings Run Game

The Minnesota Vikings struggled to run the ball during the 2023 NFL season. While moving on from Dalvin Cook was the right decision, Alexander Mattison quickly proved he wasn't ready to be the full-time starter.

Minnesota ran for the fourth-fewest yards this season, and it's a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later. It makes sense for this team to target a running back in the draft, but they should also consider some of the free-agent options. Here are three guys who could instantly help fix the Vikings' rushing attack.

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Barkley To The Vikings?

Saquon Barkley is going to improve the offense of whichever team signs him this off-season. Despite dealing with injuries throughout his career, the 26-year-old has managed to rush for more than 5,200 rushing yards and has 47 total touchdowns. Adding him to the lineup with Jefferson, Hockenson, Addison and Kirk Cousins would be incredible.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report also linked Barkley to the Vikings in a piece earlier this week. Ballentine brings up a good point in his article, saying Barkley wouldn't need to necessarily be the guy in the Vikings' offense. Saquon would have a great supporting cast for the time in his six-year NFL career if he signs with Minnesota.

This is probably my favorite option out of the available free agents, but finding the money to potentially pay Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson AND Saquon Barkley could be an issue.

From L.A. To Minnesota?

Another guy who could make an instant impact with Minnesota is Austin Ekeler. The seven-year veteran led the league in combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in both 2021 and 2022.

Don't let his mediocre stats from this season fool you. Ekeler can still play at an elite level. He never seemed 100% healthy at any time during the 2023 campaign and has publicly expressed his contract concerns in Los Angeles.

Overall, he's a skilled player who could help in both the rushing and receiving game while bringing a ton of NFL experience with him. If Minnesota could get him on a short-term contract, he is a guy worth taking a swing at. 

2022 Rushing Leader

I absolutely love Josh Jacobs, and while he didn't live up to expectations in 2023, I think he's ready to get back to form next season.

The 25-year-old recorded 805 yards and six rushing touchdowns on 233 carries during his 13 games this season, all of which are career lows. However, you don't need to look far to find much better stats. 

Jacobs led the league in rushing a year prior with 1,653 yards. That season he also tied his career-high in touchdowns with 12. Not to mention an extra 400 receiving yards. Put it all together, and Jacobs earned himself a spot on the All-Pro roster and was named to the NFL's Pro Bowl. Adding him to the Vikings roster would drastically change their running game for the better.

Final Thoughts

It would be lovely to have any of these three players on the Vikings roster in 2024, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. 

Minnesota has 27 players who will become free agents next month, including star quarterback Kirk Cousins, and their top defensive weapon Danielle Hunter. Plus they'll be looking to extend Justin Jefferson on top of all of it. 

The bottom line is I don't expect Minnesota to have the cap space necessary to try and sign one of the top free-agent running backs, thus forcing them to find a high-end rusher in the NFL draft. 

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