Matt Asiata Reportedly Signs with Lions After 5 Seasons with Vikings

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2017

Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) runs against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

After wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey for the first five years of his NFL career, running back Matt Asiata has reportedly signed a deal with the Detroit Lions

Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Asiata agreed to a one-year contract, and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News confirmed the signing.

Asiata was a versatile piece of the offensive puzzle in Minnesota after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He split time between running back and fullback, taking over as the Vikings' primary starter in 2014 after Adrian Peterson was placed on the commissioner's exempt list amid allegations of child abuse.

The 2014 season turned out to be the most productive of Asiata's career. He set career-highs in carries (164), rushing yards (570), rushing touchdowns (nine), receptions (44) and receiving yards (312). 

While Asiata has never been a huge producer in the run game, serving as more of a power option in short-yardage situations, he does have 95 receptions over the past three seasons. 

As a running back, though, Asiata needed to show more consistency in that area of the game. Pro Football Focus highlighted one significant area in which his game was lacking in 2016:

Depending on the kind of role Asiata assumes with the Lions, he should be a luxury in the running game. His best asset is as a blocking fullback who can play in front of the running back, though he could also line up at running back on third down to block for the quarterback and catch passes. 

The NFL isn't flush with traditional fullbacks anymore, but Asiata is a hybrid player who has had success in multiple roles in the past and will be put in a position to succeed once again in his new home.

Asiata will join a Lions backfield without a clear No. 1 guy, as Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington are all in the mix for carries.

Detroit ranked just 30th in the NFL in rushing last season, but Asiata could provide it with some much-needed punch in short-yardage situations.