Is There a Dalvin Cook Countdown?

AFC East Arms Race
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In March, the Minnesota Vikings re-signed RB2 Alexander Mattison to a two-year, $7 million contract extension, a move not entirely expected by the team’s fanbase.

Mattison was said to be on deck for RB1 duty with another team, perhaps at a large price tag. In the end, he ventured nowhere and remained with the Vikings, implying that Mattison would become the Vikings primary running back.

Is There a Dalvin Cook Countdown?

Several weeks later, Minnesota drafted the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s DeWayne McBride from the 7th Round. He’s a running back who would’ve been chosen in Rounds 2 or 3 a decade ago, implying McBride is an RB1-caliber playmaker.

And all of this means existing RB1 Dalvin Cook may not be long for this Vikings world. In fact, onlookers could be amidst a silent countdown.

Is There a Dalvin
Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) during warms ups before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

The Cook rumor mill became prominent about a week before free agency kicked off on March 13th. He was plopped onto the Miami Dolphins roster as a possible trade candidate, a reasonable fit as Miami is his hometown. But then nothing happened on the trade front, and the Dolphins re-signed a bunch of their 2022 tailbacks and drafted one last weekend.

Still, the Cook-to-Dolphins theory remains very much alive, and Miami would just have to figure out how so many RBs receive carries in an offense featuring Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Many believed some kind of Cook trade would culminate during the draft. Then that didn’t happen either. It’s all just a slow march to Cook’s inevitable exodus, assuming he doesn’t undergo a colossal change of heart and take a paycut. He’s scheduled to incur a $14.1 million cap hit in 2023, and that’s too rich for the Vikings blood.

Draft Homework
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.

When asked about Cook’s future in purple, general manager¬†Kwesi Adofo-Mensah replied¬†at a press conference three weeks ago, “Conversations are always ongoing with him. We’re trying to be solution-oriented always, trying to put the roster together within our constraints.” Those sound like comments regarding a player who’s about to depart.

So, here’s the deal: the Vikings are likely waiting until June 1st to trade or release Cook.

If Adofo-Mensah releases Cook before June 1st, the club will save $5.9 million with an $8.2 million cap penalty. After that date, it’s $9 million in savings with a $5.1 million cap penalty. For a trade, sending Cook elsewhere before June 1st would save $7.8 million and fetch a mid-to-late round draft pick. Offloading Cook after June 1st via trade would save $11 million with a $3.1 million penalty. 

Vikings Might Pounce
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) looks on prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s a little strange that Cook didn’t receive a red-carpet send-off like Adam Thielen or Eric Kendricks in March. Each had “their day” for the news cycle — for fans to say bon voyage. If Cook gets the same treatment, it may be via trade or release in about a month.

Cook’s situation is now a numbers game. It adds up financially for the Vikings to ride out his impending exit. Otherwise, Cook would’ve jettisoned by now.

Ergo, we’re likely on a ticking clock of 29 days.


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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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

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