The Minnesota Vikings announced that they have re-signed running back Matt Asiata. There were reports earlier in the offseason that the two sides were not close in their contract talks, but they were able to iron out the details.
Asiata provides the Vikings with valuable depth at the running back position behind Adrian Peterson. It is an important role, as Peterson has only played in all 16 regular-season games four times in his nine-year career. Also, as Peterson continues to get older – currently 30 – his snaps will likely decrease as the coaching staff tries to keep him fresher.
That means it will be up to Asiata and Jerick McKinnon to fill in when asked to do so.
Asiata may also have the most secure hands on the team when it comes to not putting the ball on the ground. He has put the ball on the ground just twice in 240 attempts. The trust the coaches had in him was apparent last season when they would put him into games during critical situations in place of Peterson, as Peterson has been known to be careless with the football.
Not only is Asiata the most sure-handed running back on the Vikings roster, but he is also the best in pass protection. He was on the field for 209 snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and 165 of those snaps were passing plays, often coming into games when the Vikings could not take a sack.
While Asiata will never be the home-run hitter that Peterson or McKinnon can be, he may be the most reliable running back on the Vikings roster. He does not put the ball on the ground and he has the ability to protect the quarterback.
Asiata is the ninth Vikings free agent to re-sign with the team. The Pioneer Press reported that it was just a one-year deal, which means he will likely be looking to prove his worth next season in order to earn a bigger deal from the Vikings or another team next offseason.