Vikings Fans Prefer to Keep 1 Aging Playmaker over the Other

Dalvin Cook Uses Chalkboard Treatment for Fine
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The Vikings started their 2023 offseason prematurely because of the surprising and disappointing loss to the New York Giants in the wild-card round. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must make many hard decisions, considering the team’s salary cap struggles. The Vikings are currently over $24 million over the cap after re-signing Blake Brandel and Khyiris Tonga.

More moves will follow in the next few weeks, as the team needs to be under the cap when the new league year begins on March 15. The Vikings can get there in many different ways. Extending quarterback Kirk Cousins could be an option, just like releasing some expensive veterans like Eric Kendricks. Two beloved offensive skill position players could also be on the chopping block.

Vikings Fans Prefer to Keep 1 Aging Playmaker over the Other

Two star players, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook, potentially played their last game for the purple team in the 2022 postseason. Cook is under contract for three more seasons and Thielen for two. However, the Vikings need to save some cap space, and the two have huge hits.

Vikings Fans Prefer to Keep 1 Aging Playmaker Over the Other
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

That is acceptable when they are playing at a high level, but 2022 was a problematic season for them both. Running back Cook is not a great fit in the new offense of Kevin O’Connell. He is a workhorse runner, used to getting a lot of touches. However, the Vikings ran the ball on only 34% of the plays, ranking them among the teams with the fewest runs in the NFL.

His current cap hit for the upcoming season is $14,101,272, an astronomical number for a running back. In addition, Cook lost a step in the last couple of years and hasn’t been very effective since the conclusion of the 2020 season. Limited touches, excessive cap hit, and declining play are three reasons to move on from Cook.

Analyst Drops Daunting
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Similar things can be said about Thielen. The wideout lost some athleticism and can’t get open as consistently as he used to, even against primarily single coverage when Justin Jefferson is getting all of the attention from the defense. His cap hit is $19,967,647, the 13th highest among WRs.

1,599 people voted in the poll. It does not have any scientific value but shows the tendency of the fans.

The poll shows that Vikings fans prefer to keep Thielen on board. Some explained in the comment section. Matt McKeon opined: “A number of reasons but ultimately WR is a more valuable position than RB, and RB doesn’t warrant being paid like a premium position anymore.”

The value of running backs in today’s NFL is downward. Teams regularly move on from their highly-priced runners and replace them with cheaper players. The last Super Bowl champions built their running back room that way. Good halfbacks can be found in the mid-rounds and even later in drafts.

Some others argue that Cook has more left in the tank than Thielen. Certainly, the total numbers agree with that, and Cook provided some crucial big plays in the 2022 campaign. The Vikings might not have won the games against the Colts without his receiving touchdown to essentially tie the game or the Bills game without his huge run down when the team was losing by 17 points.

However, the advanced metrics disagree. Cook was one of the least effective backs in the 2022 season by various metrics.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Cook could be replaced in the off-season by signing a cheap veteran option and pairing him with either a combination of Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu or a rookie in the upcoming draft.

Thielen’s replacement could be a rookie if the Vikings target the position early in the draft or a free agent signing. Players like Mecole Hardman and DJ Chark could help the team with their speed. However, wideouts are much more expensive on the open market than running backs.

Of course, moving on from beloved veteran players is never easy. Twitter user @Strallweat commented: “I hate deciding on this.”

Thielen and Cook are career Vikings and never suited up for a different organization. Hometown hero Thielen appeared in 141 games for the Vikings in the regular season and the playoffs and recorded 558 catches for 7,013 yards and 57 receiving touchdowns. Running back Cook gained 8,013 yards for the Vikings and 54 touchdowns in 76 games.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt