This Game-Changing Signing Could Reshape the Entire Season - footballivenews
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This Game-Changing Signing Could Reshape the Entire Season



The Minnesota Vikings are in dire need of a running game transformation after facing challenges with Alexander Mattison as their primary back last season, and D’Andre Swift could be the key to reinventing their ground attack.

Fresh off his inaugural Pro Bowl season with the playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles, Swift is on the verge of hitting free agency during the offseason. After three seasons with the Detroit Lions, he was traded for a fourth-round pick last year and has showcased his talents with the Eagles, accumulating a career-high 1,049 rushing yards and contributing 39 receptions for 214 receiving yards.

Selected in the second round of the 2020 draft, Swift is a genuine dual-threat out of the backfield, boasting 195 receptions and 1,912 receiving yards in his four professional seasons. Despite facing obstacles at the line of scrimmage, the Vikings’ offense could have greatly benefited from more screen passes in 2023 to utilize their running backs in open space – a specialty of Swift’s.

According to Pro Football Focus, Swift caught all 24 of his targets thrown behind the line of scrimmage, averaging an impressive 9.4 yards per reception. While an effective screen game relies on robust run-blocking, Swift stands out for his ability to elude defenders in open space.

Although Ty Chandler exhibited promise late in the previous season and is expected to vie for the starting role next season, the Vikings lack backs with the speed and receiving prowess comparable to Chandler.

The previous season highlighted that the running game was tailored around Mattison’s strengths. Acquiring Swift would signify a shift in the run-game strategy, emphasizing wide-zone runs that align with the strengths of swift backs like Swift and Chandler.

Spotrac predicts that Swift could command a contract worth $5.6 million per year in free agency after earning $8.6 million across the four years of his rookie contract.

Despite the desire for change, the Vikings are unlikely to part ways with Alexander Mattison. Signed to a two-year contract in March 2022, the deal indicated a move away from Dalvin Cook. Mattison received $6.35 million fully guaranteed in the $7 million deal, making cutting him a challenging financial decision. Releasing him this offseason would incur a $4 million dead cap hit, freeing up only $600,000.

A trade could provide a more feasible solution, with the Vikings responsible for only $1.25 million and saving $3.35 million in cap space if they trade Mattison during the offseason.

Once hailed as a reliable between-the-tackles runner, Mattison’s performance dipped in 2023. Despite a career-high 180 carries, he broke the fewest tackles (5) in his career, and his 36 carries per broken tackle ranked seventh-lowest in the NFL. Mattison, having 180 rushing attempts without a single rushing touchdown, faces challenges in retaining his previous form.

While Mattison is likely to remain with the Vikings, changes are imperative for the running game to improve in terms of time of possession.

D’Andre Swift, despite his agility, is among the more substantial backs in the league at 215 pounds and 5-foot-9, weighing the same as Mattison. In his final seasons with the Lions, Swift’s coaching staff aimed to bring out more physicality in him, aligning with their running style alongside David Montgomery.

While not a true brawler, Swift possesses the frame and lower center of gravity to excel in short-yardage situations, making him a potential fit for the role Mattison currently occupies with the Vikings.

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