Dalvin Cook Likely Won’t Be Released

Friendly to Dalvin
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.

At midnight EST Friday, Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook can be released for cap savings of $9 million or traded for a mid-to-late-round draft pick(s) and $11 million in savings.

‘June 1st’ — or more realistically, June 2nd — has always been the day linked to the Cook trade-or-release saga because it’s smarter for the Vikings to offload his contract at that time.

Dalvin Cook Likely Won’t Be Released

Now, we’re there — or mere hours from it.

Dalvin Cook Likely
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In theory, Cook could accept a paycut and remain with the Vikings in 2023. Cook won’t want to take a paycut in Minnesota — would you do it at your job? — but the numbers could make more sense than signing a smaller contract with a team such as the San Francisco 49ers or Arizona Cardinals. For example, if Cook agrees to slash his pay to $7 million or so, well, that might be more money than some other team would give him in free agency.

Regarding a release of Cook on Friday or afterward, here’s the question — why would the Vikings outright release Cook when it could’ve done so at any time in the last four months? Releases can be designated with a post-June-1st designation; it happens frequently in the NFL. Perhaps Minnesota learned early on in The Cook Sweepstakes that he wasn’t a hot commodity on the trade market. He could’ve been tabbed for a post-6/1 cut, and the running back would’ve been free to sign anywhere.

Has Dalvin Cook Played
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) and Buffalo Bills defender in overtime at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

A release, though, is a popular theory in Vikings circles. Not finding a trade partner since the beginning of March, they’ll probably just cut him in June — is the working theory. Well, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t have to wait until June to reap the financial benefits. He was able to release Cook three months ago and pre-date the cap savings for June 1st or 2nd.

What does this mean? Well, if Cook doesn’t fancy a pay reduction, he’ll likely be traded. The destination is unclear. And if Cook is indeed traded to the highest bidder, it will add up in hindsight that Adofo-Mensah ‘waited all this time’ to pull the trigger on the deal. Trades cannot be consummated with a post-June-1st designation like releases.

Vikings Have 7 Possible
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

If this theory is incorrect, first, well, savage the author — @dustbaker. He’ll deserve it. Secondarily, if the Vikings release Cook on Friday or later, they deprived the man a ‘pick of the litter’ in free agency. Now, his options have dwindled as teams have used free agency and the NFL draft to obtain new 2023 running backs.

The Vikings allowed Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen to exit the franchise on a ‘day of their own.’ Why not Cook?

Unless the map has been severely misinterpreted, it seems the Vikings have waited three months to trade Cook when it is the most advantageous to the team — or he’ll suit up for the club once again in September. A release now is weird, late, and unfair to Cook.

If it’s a release for Cook, it will have meant the Vikings ‘tried and tried’ to trade the man but decided on the symbolic and coincidental June 2nd-or-after date to throw in the towel and bite the bullet.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.