The Vikings Officially Pulled the Trigger

Another Nugget Enters
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings parted ways with Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks just before the start of free agency to get under the salary cap limit, a requirement by the league. Both had down years in 2022 and it should be examined if the decline had something to do with their age. Father Time is still undefeated. Roughly three months later, another long-tenured Viking had to depart from the organization.

The Vikings Officially Pulled the Trigger

The Vikings Officially Pulled the Trigger
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Dalvin Cook was rumored for a long time to be cut or traded after six years as the star running back in Minnesota. Tom Pelissero tweeted on Thursday: “The Vikings are expected to officially release Dalvin Cook on Friday, per source. So unless a Hail Mary trade offer comes through, he’ll be free to sign with any team starting after 4 p.m. Friday.”

At that point, a trade was already unlikely. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah attempted a final shot to find a trade partner – someone that didn’t want to be part of a bidding war for the soon-to-be free agent who is in a position to pick his next team. However, teams in the NFL in 2023 don’t want to give up assets for an aging running back and let him hit the books for an $11 million cap hit in the upcoming season.

For that reason, Minnesota released the star. This was the tweet from the official team account.

“Thank you, Dalvin” is a fantastic sentence to end his tenure with the purple team. He has given his all in every game and often played despite suffering from injuries. Unforgettable is his 200-yard performance on Thursday Night Football against the Steelers. The four-time Pro Bowler played with a shoulder harness because of a dislocated shoulder a couple of weeks before and still rushed for 205 yards and two scores. That was just one example of many.

He tore his ACL in his rookie season in 2017 and suffered from countless shoulder and ankle injuries but still managed to play in 61 of 69 games since 2019, which is fairly durable for a running back.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Despite his durability demons, Cook appeared in 76 games with the Vikings, including the postseason. His regular season statistics (those that will be visible in the record books), show 5,993 rushing yards, 47 rushing touchdowns, 221 receptions for 1,794 yards, and 5 receiving touchdowns. He needed 1,282 rushing attempts for that which equals an average of 4.7 yards per attempt.

In a Vikings context, he fired up the third-most rushing yards in franchise history only trailing Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith. His rushing touchdowns rank him fourth behind Peterson, Chuck Foreman, and Bill Brown while his rushing yards per game of 82.1 stands second behind only Peterson.

Cook is now free to choose his next destination. The runner played college football at Florida State and is from the Miami area. His hometown team, the Miami Dolphins, has been rumored to be a possible next squad. He could also join his brother James in Buffalo. Sean Payton’s Denver Broncos could be an option as well.

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The 27-year-old still put up huge total numbers in 2022, including 1,173 rushing yards and 8 rushing scores. He also had some mind-boggling plays including a career-high 81-yard touchdown run against the Bills and a 64-yard reception against the Colts. Both were crucial plays in two memorable games and showed his athleticism. While he is no longer in his prime, Cook still has something left in the tank but he is entering his age 28 season. Running backs rapidly decline at that age.

Minnesota needs to replace its workhorse running back by using a committee, as no single player on the roster can totally replace him. Alexander Mattison was re-signed in free agency. The veteran has a similar style as Cook minus his top-level speed. The Vikes also employ promising players Ty Chandler and rookie DeWayne McBride who could challenge Mattison for carries.

2023 will be the first season since 2006 without either Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook on the roster of the Vikings.

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