One of the most important potential roles for the Minnesota Vikings is being the running back to act as cover for Adrian Peterson. Both Toby Gerhart and Matt Asiata are hitting free agency this offseason, but only one of them is likely to be re-signed by the Vikings.
With Peterson as the number one running back, there aren’t that many carries left for the other players. The Vikings had 423 carries last season, with 279 going to Peterson. Asiata had 44 for 166 yards and three touchdowns; Gerhart ran for 283 yards on 56 carries. The rest were split between quarterbacks and Cordarrelle Patterson on plays with a special flavor to them.
But it’s not going to be ability that keeps one of the two as a backup to Peterson; it’s going to be a financial suitability, or in clearer terms: The cheaper one, who is probably the inferior running back.
Gerhart has proved that he can be more than a guy who gets to carry the ball 3-4 times a game, but he doesn’t have a chance of becoming that kind of player on the Vikings. There are enough teams with a need at running back who work with a two-back system like the Giants, Browns and Dolphins. Gerhart could be a much better fit with one of these teams, not to mention get more money than the veteran’s minimum the Vikings are planning to offer.
Asiata is in a different situation. Same age as Gerhart, but not that impressive, and likely to find himself out of the league if he doesn’t sign the minimum salary the Vikings will offer him.
As for Gerhart’s potential teams: The Dolphins were disappointed with Daniel Thomas last season and will be looking to upgrade next to Lamar Miller. The Browns are pretty much an empty slate and Gerhart might get a lot of touches over there, while the Giants do have Andre Browns and David Wilson, but aren’t that sure about their future. Gerhart will find somewhere that appreciates him both in terms of carries and money, more than the Vikings at least.