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Jerick McKinnon: Is The Jet Ready for Takeoff...from Minnesota?

By: Tanishka Mhaskar 
Photo: Alex Dorner
Date: Thursday March 8th, 2018

With stud RB Dalvin Cook returning, is McKinnon going to find a home elsewhere?

Next season means lots of change for the Minnesota Vikings' offense. Likely a new quarterback, the former first string RB returning and a new offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo. And maybe even the departure of Jet. The need for running backs in high around the NFL, so seeing McKinnon leave to take an expanded role elsewhere is not too surprising, but in its own a way a bit heartbreaking.

McKinnon had 991 yards from scrimmage and 5 total touchdowns ( both career highs) this past season, splitting time with second string RB Latavius Murray. But at his locker the day after an agonizing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship, McKinnon was pretty clear that the "third string" role would not work for him. "I want to be the guy," McKinnon said. "I don't put in all the work in the offseason to come back and be in this role. I appreciate the role. It worked out well, but I want bigger and better things for myself."

Right when offseason started McKinnon posted a cryptic tweet:

Minnesota already has a true #1 back in Dalvin Cook whom they drafted last year in the 2nd round, 41st overall pick. Last week during the NFL combine HC Mike Zimmer spoke to the media regarding Cook's return: "I think he's going to get a lot of pays," Zimmer said. "I think he's going to get a lot. The one thing we have to be careful about with Dalvin is, you know, we don't wear him out. It's a long season, we've got to be smart about it, so we'll have to have a - not necessarily a pitch count but be mindful that it's a 16 game, maybe 20 game season and we're going to have to be smart about how we use him. Because he is a three-down back." 

Nowhere in his comments did Zimmer mention rotating so all three backs get playing time, which is understandable because Cook rightfully earned the starting job during training camp last season. McKinnon is an unrestricted free agent, and even though he is a very versatile back, not signing him would save cap space since the Vikings have a pretty strong duo of backs without McKinnon in Cook who is a three down back and Murray who is a power back.

If McKinnon decides to stay in Minnesota all Vikings fans would be elated but if not, it is understandable if he decides to head somewhere else for an extended role that he truly deserves. Wherever you go, Jerick McKinnon, VikingNations wishes you luck.