There Might Be a Sleeper Team in the Market for Dalvin Cook

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) warms up before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

After six seasons with the organization, the Minnesota Vikings ended Dalvin Cook’s employment, releasing him in June.

Cook had been a staple of the organization, functioning as the lead back and one of the team’s top stars. In his heyday in 2020, Cook was an unstoppable force, winning some games by himself. The four-touchdown outing against the Packers kickstarted the season after a horrendous 1-5 start.

There Might Be a Sleeper Team in the Market for Dalvin Cook

There Might Be a Sleeper Team in the Market for Dalvin Cook
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) looks on after the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Since his release in early June, Cook has been an oft-mentioned player in the media and envisioned joining various teams. Many franchises would love to sign the veteran, but only a few are willing to pay more than a bargain salary to a running back nowadays.

The theories of teams in the race for Cook are endless. Miami is a popular pick as the hometown team for the star runner. Cook and his agent publicly flirted with the Jets on multiple occasions.

A famous podcast fantasized about the four-time Pro Bowler wearing a different jersey, one that hasn’t been mentioned at all.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and running back Dalvin Cook (4) in action during the game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah talked on their podcast ‘Move the Sticks‘ about potential sleeper teams that could enter the playoffs, and the two mentioned the Washington Commanders with their strong defense but a mystery at quarterback. Brooks noted that the offense is missing one piece – a running back. That is where he anticipates Cook to make a difference.

I still worry about this part for the Commanders. I wish they could run the ball. I wish they had a marquee running back. I like Brian Robinson, he’s fine, Antonio Gibson has been kind of up and down. I wish they had an established runner. To me, Dalvin Cook in that uniform changes how you have to play their offense and it opens up the field for McLaurin and those playmakers on the outside. That would be the team that if I could give them a marquee player, I would give them Dalvin Cook in that situation because if he’s there, it changes everything.

Bucky Brooks
Feb 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; NFC running back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings (4) and AFC running back Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans (22) pose during the Pro Bowl Games at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Commanders had a subpar running game in 2022. They ranked 29th in DVOA and 23rd in EPA/run and 24th in yards per run. Only three teams had fewer rushing TDs. Neither of their top rushers, Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson, reached 4 yards per run.

Cook, meanwhile, racked up his fourth straight 1,100-yard season, 8 rushing touchdowns, and 4.4 yards per run. However, it should be noted that Cook couldn’t elevate the Vikings’ rushing attack to better efficiency numbers than the Commanders had.

Jeremiah responded to Brooks’ idea:

That’s a fair point. If you think about that coaching staff…they value the run game. So there is a belief and a value system there when it comes to those running backs. That’s why it wouldn’t shock me if that’s ultimately where he ended up going.

Daniel Jeremiah
Evidently Have a
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) catches a touchdown pass over Washington Commanders safety Kamren Curl (31) during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

The coaches valuing the running game could be an enticing factor for Cook’s decision. If he joins the Bills, he would have to watch Josh Allen pass ten conductive times, the Cowboys feature Tony Pollard, and Miami employs a plethora of running backs. Last year’s rookie phenom Breece Hall would be his main competition with the Jets. Despite the bad efficiency, the Commanders had the fourth most rushing attempts in 2022. Cook would get plenty of opportunities there.

Another essential detail is the cap space. The Commanders currently have almost $12 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap. Regardless of the solid fit, if Cook wants to play at home for the Dolphins, Washington is not an option, and it is certainly not the best address to go rung hunting.

Cook turns 28 in August.

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