Cutting Alexander Mattison Won’t Help Vikings’ Cap Problems

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings offseason has officially begun and fans all over the internet have been scared straight into cap dilemma nightmares that have them scrounging in their own couch cushions for how they Vikings can possibly afford to roster a competent team in 2024.

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Recently, I’ve seen a lot of cap saving fingers point to running back Alexander Mattison as an easy cost-saving release, and for good reason. He’s scheduled to make $4.6 million next season, a salary meant for starting running backs in the NFL.

Should Minnesota Vikings Cut Alexander Mattison?

In 2023, Mattison did nothing to prove himself worthy of RB1 status, even though he was given every opportunity too many opportunities to do so. He ran for just 700 yards on 180 carries last season, good for an ugly 3.9 yards per carry.

Even with a career high in attempts, Mattison posted a career low in broken tackles, with just 5. That’s 36 carries for every broken tackle, in case you are counting. So, there we go. That was easy, huh? Point proven. The Minnesota Vikings should move on from Alexander Mattison.

The contract says…

Ope… not so fast. In theory, cutting Alexander Mattison makes a lot of logic sense. But of course, there’s a problem. Because moving on from Mattison won’t be quite that easy. In fact, it won’t be easy at all. Why? Well, because $4 million of the $4.6 million he is scheduled to make in 2024 is fully guaranteed.

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That’s right, unless Mattison agrees to restructure his contract, the Vikings will pay him at least $4 million this season, whether he is on the roster or not. According to Spotrac.com, Mattison will count $4.6 million against the salary cap if on the team next year and $4 million against the cap if they cut him.

Should the Vikings somehow find a trade partner willing to take on what they can of Alex’s salary, Kwesi would save $3.35 million against Minnesota’s 2024 cap. But even then, they’d have to eat $1.25 million in dead cap.

2024 ContractBase SalaryCap HitDead CapTrade Penalty
Alexander Mattison$3.3M$4.6M$4.0M$1.25M
Spotrac.com

And no, there is no ‘post June 1’ magic date that the Vikings can designate Mattison’s release for, in order to escape the dead cap hit in 2024. Unless he willingly takes a pay cut, #2 will take up $4M to $5M in cap space next season no matter what.

What was Kwesi Adofo-Mensah thinking?

I hate being the hindsight is 20/20 guy but signing Alexander Mattison to a 2-year fully guaranteed contract makes no sense. We were sold on this idea that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell would come in and make decisions based on how football is supposed to be played and how rosters are supposed to be constructed in the 2020s. So why is this a thing?

Related: 2024 Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft – 1.0

You don’t have to own a degree from Wall Street or the NFL to know that guaranteeing future money to running backs is a huge no-no, in 2024. Yet here we are, with a running back we don’t want but can’t get rid of because he has too much guaranteed money on the contract he signed with just last offseason.

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