1 Big Vikings Name Is on a Timeline

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Numerous reports suggest one big Vikings name will be on the move. Dalvin Cook’s time as a Minnesota Viking is likely coming to an end.

This story has been written for seemingly two months now, with some curveballs coming from the rumor mill. However, the timeline to move him is just two short weeks away.

After Cook elected to have surgery to repair his shoulder that has caused him to miss several games over the last few years, it triggered an injury guarantee in his contract. This guaranteed money made it more expensive to release him before June 1st.

1 Big Vikings Name Is on a Timeline

Of course, the Vikings could have released him by now with a June 1st designation. Although, it appears they are still trying to work out a trade with some team. Who that team is remains a mystery.

Many have suggested that Miami is a likely place for him to end up. But that doesn’t seem like a good fit now that the Dolphins have re-signed Raheem Mostert.

My tealeaf reading prior to the draft was that if a quarterback the Vikings loved fell to 8th overall, Cook would be part of a trade compensation to the Atlanta Falcons. As we know now, according to the rumors, that quarterback was Bryce Young. Of course, Young went number 1 overall, and the Falcons selected Bijan Robinson.

Just like that, another potential landing spot for Dalvin Cook is gone.

1 big Vikings name
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Finding a trade partner for Cook will be difficult at this point of the year. If any trade is completed, do not be surprised to see the value come in something like a 6th or 7th-round pick. AKA, a salary cap dump. That draft pick might even be a 2025 draft pick too.

Getting any draft pick compensation at this point would be a massive win for Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. There is just not a lot of leverage for Kwesi in this scenario. Any move made with Cook is a move simply to free up cap space.

How much cap space can the team free up? Here are a few potential scenarios:

  • Vikings trade Cook pre-June 1st – $6.2 million dead cap and $7.89 million saved
  • Vikings trade Cook post-June 1st – $3.1 million dead cap and $11 million saved
  • Vikings release Cook post-June 1st – $5.1 million dead cap and $9 million saved

Of course, the best course of action is a trade after June 1st. Although, that does mean the Vikings will carry over some dead cap into 2024, which won’t be a big deal as the team has nearly $45 million in cap space after Za’Darius Smith’s contract is off the books.

The real question is, what does the running back room look like without Cook?

Can the Vikings’ Run Game be Successful Without Dalvin Cook?

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Dalvin Cook has been a staple of the offense since 2018. Fans have enjoyed him putting on a highlight reel over this timeframe. Some of the best games seemed to come at Lambeau Field, which is a bonus.

However, if and when Cook is no longer on the team, who takes over, and how effective will they be? This is the good part. They are very deep at running back. The current roster includes:

  • Alexander Mattison
  • Ty Chandler
  • DeWayne McBride
  • Kene Nwangwu

A quick scan of this list screams a “running back by committee” type of room. There will no longer be a bell cow type of running back. Instead, they will deploy multiple backs who are good at different things.

Mattison is good enough to be effective. He can slam home a few nice runs for 4 or 5 yards and even hit some big ones here and there. Although, he lacks the burst and speed that Cook has.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

That is where Ty Chandler comes into play. Chandler ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine. His speed is that change of pace you are looking for to pair with a guy like Mattison.

McBride is a bit of a mystery right now. He has quite the highlight reel coming out of college, but that was still college. We will see how he progresses in the NFL. As a 7th-round pick, he is not guaranteed to make the team. However, the Vikings will probably follow the path they did last year and keep four running backs on the active roster.

Nwangwu will probably not see a whole lot of time in the backfield again this season. However, he is all but guaranteed to make the roster as a kick returner.

When looking at the potential of this running back room, losing Dalvin Cook will not hurt as much as some might think. Of course, Cook is explosive and will be missed. But the Vikings run game can still be plenty effective and efficient without him.

Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3