It shouldn’t take Minnesota Vikings rookie running back Ty Chandler long to start making some noise at the next level, but don’t expect things to get loud enough for him to supplant Alexander Mattison right out of the gates.
Let’s pump the brakes.
Mattison isn’t a cap casualty or some on-the-bubble player that could end up as a surprise cut ahead of the 2022 season. I wouldn’t expect the Vikings to look to move him, period, unless another team came out of nowhere and floated an offer they couldn’t pass up.
The latter is unlikely to happen because every interested team knows they’ll have a shot at landing him without giving up assets in 2023, when his contract expires with the Vikings.
As for Minnesota, why even consider moving a player that has consistently proven to be one of the best backup running backs in the league? If the team is truly in a win-now mode, it would be smarter to keep a player like Mattison around as an insurance policy for Cook.
Yes, Chandler is the sort of versatile running back with the potential to become a longstanding part of the Vikings offense. People have been singing his surprises long before the 2022 NFL draft.
North Carolina RB Ty Chandler is an underrated back with speed and contact balance as a runner, toughness in pass pro and legitimate downfield pass-catching ability. Some team could get a steal on Day 3 with Chandler. pic.twitter.com/esTCb6sZSA
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) February 28, 2022
But this is also an opportunity for him to come in and learn the ropes without the pressure of being thrown into the mix right away.
Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell loves two-back sets on the field, and there’s a good chance the No. 2 option is going to see more work than in previous years with the team. There are probably plays already being drawn up with the expectations of utilizing both Cook and Mattison on the field together to create mismatches against opposing defenses.
Chandler will have his chance in the future with Mattison likely leaving in free agency next season. Some running back-needy team will come along and offer him the sort of money that lures his eyes away from Minnesota. We saw it during free agency this year with tight end Tyler Conklin, who came off his rookie contract and signed with the New York Jets.
Of course, that’s assuming the Vikings don’t have a surprise trade with Cook in mind for a cheaper and more cap-friendly deal with Mattison, who is still only 23 years old.
The 2022 season is all about keeping the best parts and building a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl. If Cook wasn’t around, Mattison would be considered one of the “best parts” for the Vikings.
Perhaps the same will be said about Chandler in the next year or so, but it’s way too early to be singing that tune right now.