Do the Vikings already have their next starting RB on their roster?

(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images) Ty Chandler
(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images) Ty Chandler /

If the Minnesota Vikings move on from running back Dalvin Cook in the near future, could his replacement already be on the team’s roster?

With their second of two picks in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings decided to select former North Carolina running back Ty Chandler. Despite already having Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and Kene Nwangwu on their roster, the Vikings clearly felt they couldn’t let Chandler remain on the draft board any longer.

Following the conclusion of Minnesota’s 2022 preseason on Saturday, it’s not difficult to understand why they drafted the former North Carolina running back this year.

In three exhibition games this summer, Chandler led the Vikings with 113 rushing yards and an average of 7.5 yards per carry (on 15 rushing attempts). In addition to his impressive numbers in the offensive backfield, he also returned a kickoff for 56 yards during Minnesota’s preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Could Ty Chandler eventually emerge as the replacement for Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook?

Cook has been the Vikings’ No. 1 running back ever since he first joined the team as a rookie in 2017. But it’s fair to think Minnesota could move on from him within the next year or two.

Currently 27-years-old, Cook is nearing the age where most top running backs in the NFL begin to see their performance trend in the wrong direction. Plus he’s about to be part of a new offense with the Vikings that won’t rely on him to be the main driving force like he was with the team’s old offensive scheme.

Minnesota releasing or trading Cook in 2023 could happen, but the chances of something like this happening in 2024 are much higher. That’s because the Vikings will free up more than $12 million in cap space if they cut or trade him in 2024.

So with Mattison likely to hit free agency and sign with another team next year, let’s assume Chandler slides in as Minnesota’s No. 2 running back in 2023. If the Vikings move on from Cook in 2024, Chandler would still have two years left on a cheap rookie contract, and the team could elect to go with him as their No. 1 back.

Obviously, what we’ve seen from Minnesota’s rookie running back this summer has been a very small sample size. But the Vikings’ new regime was ecstatic when they landed him in this year’s draft, and he has certainly shown he has the potential to develop into something special for the franchise.

Trending. 5 biggest takeaways from the Vikings preseason loss to the Broncos. light