The fullback is a restricted free agent this year and there’s a possibility he might not return to suit up for the Minnesota Vikings next season.
2019 was a season to remember for fullback C.J. Ham. In Ham’s fourth year with the Minnesota Vikings, he helped the team’s rushing offense get back to being one of the best in the NFL and his efforts resulted in him earning his first career trip to the Pro Bowl.
This year, the young fullback is a free agent. However, he is a restricted free agent, meaning the Vikings can match any offer Ham is given this offseason and force him to stay. If Minnesota decides to not match an offer to the fullback, then they will receive a draft selection as a result of his departure.
Since Ham is from the state of Minnesota, it’s assumed by many that he will likely re-sign with the team this year. But if he doesn’t, there appears to be one specific team that could have an interest in his services.
According to the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling on the latest episode of Access Vikings, the Cleveland Browns are, “a team to keep an eye on,” based on the connection to Kevin Stefanski.
Goessling also believes the Vikings could place a second-round tender on Ham due to the expected interest from Stefanski and the Browns. This means it will cost Minnesota around $3 million to re-sign the fullback or they would receive a second-round pick if he decides to go elsewhere this offseason.
Even with Ham’s connection to the new Cleveland head coach, the chances of him not returning to the Vikings this year still seem slim.
Minnesota is one of the few teams left in the NFL who actually utilize a fullback in their offense and this is expected to continue in 2020 with Gary Kubiak taking over as the offensive coordinator. If Ham is looking for playing time next season, the Vikings are likely his best option.
In 2019, he was on the field for 35 percent of Minnesota’s offensive snaps. In addition to his blocking duties, Ham was also utilized a bit as a receiver out of the backfield last season as he managed to haul in 17 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
How the Browns offense is going to look in 2020 with Stefanski now running the show is still unknown. While nothing is really expected to change when it comes to the Vikings’ offensive scheme for next season.
So as much as joining Stefanski in Cleveland could be a fun, new adventure for Ham, getting guaranteed playing time for his hometown team is probably what will convince him to stay in Minnesota this year.