The Dalvin Cook Saga Is Over

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.

Dalvin Cook had been the top free-agent running back since the Minnesota Vikings released him after six seasons with the team. Speculations about his next franchise were endless, the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots and his hometown team, the Miami Dolphins, were viewed as the likely destinations. He has now made his pick.

The Dalvin Cook Saga Is Over

The Dalvin Cook Saga Is Over
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.

The ex-Vikings star signed with the New York Jets, it is a one-year deal. Tom Pelissero tweeted: “Dalvin Cook’s one-year deal with the Jets is worth up to $8.6 million, per source, with the majority guaranteed. It’s the biggest deal signed by a free-agent RB in 2023. An elite playmaker headed to New York.”

An elite playmaker, indeed. The former Florida State standout had some outstanding highlight plays just last season. One example was the screen pass in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts to tie the game (barring the two-point conversion) in the largest comeback in NFL history. He also kickstarted the comeback win against the Buffalo Bills when the game seemed over but he scored a career-long 81-yard touchdown.

Minnesota will certainly miss that skillset, a mix of speed and elite vision. Regardless, his efficiency clearly dropped in 2022. While he was still an explosive player occasionally, he struggled to play well consistently and was an obvious downgrade from his 2020 self, when he was a true superstar.

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

Still, he fired up more than 1,100 rushing yards for the fourth straight season as the only player in the NFL to do so. Jets star running back Breece Hall is still recovering from a torn ACL and with Cook’s arrival, has all the time to get fully healthy before coming back. He is the top RB in the future of the Jets. Cook is a big upgrade over his replacements Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight, and Israel Abanikanda.

New York is slowly building a scary team with Aaron Rodgers under center throwing to Garrett Wilson. On defense, the team is also loaded, and coached by Robert Saleh, the former 49ers defensive coordinator.

The Vikings, meanwhile, replaced Cook with his backup Alexander Mattison who can do most things Cook can do and is a more physical runner but not as shifty and fast. 60-yard touchdown runs have not been a part of his repertoire.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports.

Behind Mattison, the purple team employs preseason standout Ty Chandler who deserves a shot in the regular season after dominating in his second preseason. He has the speed Mattison lacks, and therefore, is a perfect complementary.

Kene Nwangwu is currently hurt and it is still a mystery if his kick return stardom can translate to the offense. It has neither worked in college nor at the pros. He was the backup of Breece Hall at Iowa State. Rookie DeWayne McBride is also available but his first preseason outing didn’t help his prospects. He will get more opportunities in the upcoming weeks.

Cook just turned 28, an age in which running backs slow down badly but the hope in New York is that he has another season left in the tank. He didn’t get any long-term security on his deal in a disastrous market for running backs.

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