When the 2017 season ended, it was assumed that one of the key players in the offense the last couple years might be moving on, looking to get a big free agency pay day.
That pay day is today for Jerick McKinnon, who is reportedly going to sign a contract with San Francisco:
Former Vikings’ RB Jerick McKinnon intends to sign a four-year deal with the SF 49ers, per source. 49ers land the back they wanted.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2018
One of the most surprising deals of free agency will be Jerrick McKinnon's with the 49ers: It is expected to be a four-year deal worth $30 million -- an average of $7.5 million per year, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2018
With Kyle Shanahan running a West Coast-style offense that features QB Jimmy Garappolo, McKinnon will have ample opportunity to showcase the talents tha made him a reliable player for th Vikings, even if his statistics haven’t been eye-popping.
As a rookie in 2014, McKinnon stepped in (with Matt Asiata) and helped fill a huge void when RB Adrian Peterson was suspended for 15 games. He did so again in 2016 with Asiata when Peterson was injured for most of the season, but a historically bad line helped drive rushing numbers to league worst levels for the Vikings.
So what does that mean for Minnesota? With Dalvin Cook coming back, the impact should be minimal for the running game, assuming Latavius Murray can maintain his 2017 form, and assuming Murray is back. But the Vikings are going to miss his pass catching ability, and making up for 94 receptions over the last two season will need to be something the Vikings have to address. Again, it’s fair to assume Cook will pick up a lot of that slack, but the Vikes will need to add another running back, either in free agency or the draft.
Losing McKinnon is a blow to the Vikings, but it’s one that can be overcome with the right selection, and assuming Cook comes back 100% healthy (and we have no reason to believe otherwise at this point). Looking at the price the 49ers paid to get him, keeping Jet wasn’t a realistic option for the Vikings, even though he is a well liked player in Minnesota, and keeping him here would have been desireable.