Could the Vikings Open Roster Spot Be Used on an Old Friend?

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The Minnesota Vikings waived cornerback John Reid on Wednesday, just a few days before the start of training camp. They now have one open roster spot — in theory, even two because Junior Aho is a member of the international pathway program and doesn’t count against the roster. But what do the Vikings plan with that open spot?

Could the Vikings Open Roster Spot Be Used on an Old Friend?

Could the Open Roster Spot Be Used for an Old Friend?
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Teams don’t waste roster spots. The team certainly plans something, but what is it? Who will be the mysterious new guy? Well, one theory involves Dalvin Cook. The bell-cow running back is trying to find a new home since the purple team released him in June. When the Vikings announced the roster move, the comments were quickly filled with the idea of signing the star running back.

When Kirk Cousins mentioned that he hoped for a Cook comeback, it was viewed as highly improbable and more a gesture of praise for a longtime teammate instead of a real possibility. But now, some teams have already started training camp, and Cook’s free agency process hasn’t taken up steam. Cousins’ full words:

Dalvin Cook being released obviously was bigger news and I wanted to take my time to just acknowledge the respect I have for him as a player and as a person and the difference he has made for our team, his toughness, his consistency. He has been to four straight Pro Bowls, that says it all right there. I’m excited to see where he goes, I’ll always be pulling for him. And I’m kind of optimistically hoping maybe we get him back, who knows, but maybe there is an outside chance so we’ll see.

Apparently Dalvin Cook
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It is a bad economy for running backs, as teams simply don’t want to invest money in a position. Finding cheap but effective runners late in the draft is possible. In recent years, the analytics community has shown that the offensive line is just as (if not more) important for an efficient running attack.

Just last year, Isiah Pacheco and Tyler Allgeier proved to be solid backs, and both came into the league on day three of the draft. With an open roster spot and a lousy market for rushers, the Vikings are suddenly an option again, at least in theory.

Minnesota released many expensive players this offseason, resulting in enormous salary cap savings. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah started with over $20 million in debt and now has roughly $18 million available to spend on the roster.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Most of that could be used to extend the contract of Danielle Hunter, a necessary investment considering the state of the defense. There’s also the option to save the money for the upcoming years when Justin Jefferson’s potentially record-breaking contract kicks in.

But there is another hint at a Cook comeback. Vikings safety Josh Metellus was asked on Twitter if he wants to change his number from 44 to 4, the number has been vacant since Cook had to say goodbye. His response? “Negative. Gotta let that breathe for my Dawg. 44 as long as I’m a vike.”

A roster spot, a cold market, the necessary salary cap space, and teammates that still love him? A reunion seems much more plausible now than a few weeks ago.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

However, no matter how fun the theories are, it is still a long shot. The Vikings committed to Alexander Mattison as a starter when they gave him his deal, and they selected three running backs throughout the last three drafts. Those investments have to see the field at some point. It would lead to the automatic release of at least one of those guys.

In addition, Adofo-Mensah is still an analytically driven guy, and those are hesitant to pay running backs more than peanuts. In all likelihood, Cook will find a team in the next few weeks, possibly for a lower salary than he expected when he left Minnesota, but he will still find a team. Unless there is absolutely no market, a reunion could be possible.

The running back is third in rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns in franchise history and will turn 28 in August.

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