The old one-yard specialist has a new one-year deal.
Matt Asiata has played the entirety of his five-year NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings up to this point. Asiata amassed 1,259 yards rushing and 722 yards receiving over five seasons while playing mostly a backup role at running back. He also found the end zone 19 times, with over half of those scores coming in his four career multi-score games. (His propensity to find the end zone three times in a game earned him the “As3ata” nickname around these parts.) The Vikings chose not to re-sign Asiata after his contract expired in 2016. It turns out that the Vikings will still see their old friend a couple times per season.
The Detroit Lions agreed to a 1-year deal with Asiata over the weekend. He had an extended tryout with the Lions during their rookie minicamp but the team didn’t sign him until after the first week of OTAs.
The Lions current situation in the backfield is rather murky with no clear-cut RB1 as the team approaches camp. Ameer Abdullah, Theor Riddick, and Zach Zenner all have their strengths, but none of them are surefire #1 options in the backfield. Many Lions fans were surprised that the team didn’t take a running back in a draft that was very deep at the position. Asiata should have a good chance at getting some snaps in the Lions’ running back rotation as well as being a boost to Detroit’s special teams units.
While he was never the flashiest player on the roster, Asiata was incredibly dependable for the Vikings, especially when fellow running backs like Adrian Peterson were not. It’s never fun to see a former player join a division rival, but we’re guessing that game planning for Asiata twice a year won’t cause a lot of sleepless nights with his former team. Just don’t let him score that first time; if he does, there are usually two more trips to the end zone coming!