The Silver Lining of Dalvin Cook’s Release

The Vikings Top Offensive Performers v.s Bears, per PFF
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The Minnesota Vikings formally released Dalvin Cook on Friday, marking the end of a six-year career in purple and gold — and about three months of speculation regarding his status with the team.

The Silver Lining of Dalvin Cook’s Release

Cook will now latch onto another NFL team in free agency and likely generate an instant RB1 job for his age-28 season.

Lining of Dalvin
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And while a Cook trade or release was forecasted for Vikings fans since March, the fruition was painful for some fans as Cook was a locker room leader and the third-leading rusher in franchise history. Only Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith rushed for more yards as a Viking than Cook.

Still, a silver lining exists regarding the Vikings standing after Cook’s release — cap space. Truth be told, dropping Cook, via trade or release, was a measure to tabulate cap space when one gets down to brass tacks in analyzing the transaction. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has spent two offseasons offloading chunky veteran contracts amid his ‘competitive rebuild’ philosophy, and Cook’s exit is merely the latest chapter.

Lottery Ticket QB
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And don’t look now, but Cook’s release — plus the parting of ways with Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, and others — places the Vikings at No. 8 on the most available cap space list as of June 9th, according to Typically at any time on the NFL calendar, Minnesota lives in the bottom tier of funds availability. That is not the case as of early June — and likely a trend that will persist with Adofo-Mensah in charge as the young executive ‘clears the books.’

So, what will Adofo-Mensah do with the newfound $17.9 million? He has a few options.

Coach Power
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Foremost, he can parlay the 2023 offseason cap savings into a contract extension for Danielle Hunter, who is scheduled to earn just $5 million in ‘new money’ this year. Hunter wants a new contract — rightfully so — and Adofo-Mensah is now financially equipped to entertain the proposition. The cap space also aids in paving the way for Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson contract extensions.

Then, the regular season doesn’t begin for three months, and Minnesota has ample cap space to mull additional free agents, perhaps an EDGE rusher like Yannick Ngakoue or Robert Quinn, to help fortify the defense after Za’Darius Smith’s departure to Cleveland. Adding a cornerback like Marcus Peters would make sense, too.

Overhauled Teams
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Otherwise, Adofo-Mensah has a less-sexy-but-wise method available, retaining the cap space for a rainy day or rolling it over to 2024. A team isn’t required to spend all of its cap funds during the season, instead maintaining the option of banking it for 2024.

The Vikings, at least for a while, have a brave new world — enjoying cap freedom. The club usually pinches pennies 12 months out of the year. Such was the case for the final six or seven years of the Rick Spielman era.

Now, Adofo-Mensah is outfitted with nearly $18 million and can act accordingly. This is the perk of a competitive rebuild and cutting ties with beloved players like Cook, Thielen, and Kendricks.

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).

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