3 Reasons Why the Vikings Should Part Ways With Dalvin Cook

Crickets So Far
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The running back has been rumored to be on his way out for months either via trade or release. Speculated suitors of his services are the Buffalo Bills who drafted his brother James last year and the Miami Dolphins, his hometown team.

3 Reasons Why the Vikings Should Part Ways With Dalvin Cook

3 Reasons Why the Vikings Should Part Ways With Dalvin Cook
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook showed in 2022 that he still has some gas left in the tank even though he is no longer his prime self. The running back was a sensational player in 2020, arguably his best season. He rushed for more than 1,100 yards for the fourth consecutive season and is the only player in the league to do that. He is also one of the team’s leaders and a beloved player in the locker room.

So why would the Vikings move on from him?

Cap Savings

Minnesota could save $11 million in cap space if they find a trade partner and $9 million by releasing the veteran. That cap space could be used to extend the contract of star defender Danielle Hunter who is unlikely to play under his current deal that is paying him just $5.5 million in 2023. The contract extensions of Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson will not kick in in 2023, as the duo is still on the rookie contract.

Another possible use of the money is signing another player. A defender like Leonard Floyd could upgrade Brian Flores’ unit. The Vikings could also seek some additional help along the defensive line and guard Dalton Risner is an option to elevate the flawed interior offensive line.

If the Vikings don’t use all of their cap space in 2023, the money would roll over to 2024 and the team could go on a shopping spree in the next free agency period.


Cook is about to hit the running back age cliff when he turns 28 years old on August 10. Only two running backs cracked the 1,000-yard mark in their age-28 season in the past three years. Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones did so in 2022. Nobody topped that number in 2020 or 2021.

Another Nugget Enters
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In the last five seasons, only 22 running backs recorded more than a total of 500 rushing yards after turning 28. Just for comparison, Kirk Cousins had 554 rushing yards in that span. Of those 22 RBs, only two had a better yard-per-run average than 4.4: Raheem Mostert and Aaron Jones.

Cook might still be a decent running back in 2023 but he already declined in some statistics. His rushing yards over expected per attempt over the years:

  • 2022: -0.16
  • 2021: 0.34
  • 2020: 0.81
  • 2019: 0.44
  • 2018: 0.24

Cook needed a couple of years after his torn ACL to reach his prime in 2020 and his numbers have dropped since that season. The -0.16 in 2022 ranked him only 41st of 48 eligible runners.

It is unlikely that Cook can break that trend and become a superstar again that late in his career. Running backs don’t suddenly get better at his age, especially those who struggled with injuries in their careers. The Vikings should move on a year too early instead of a year too late.

Successors Are in the Building

Another reason why Cook became expendable to some degree is that the Vikings spent resources in the last 14 months to have a decent RB group even without their top guy. Adofo-Mensah surprisingly kept Alexander Mattison on the team who was seeking a starting gig somewhere but signed a two-year contract with his old team for $7 million. That kind of money is that of a starting running back, not that of a backup.

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In addition to Mattison, the Vikings employ a couple of draft picks from Adofo-Mensah’s first two drafts in charge. He selected Ty Chandler in 2022 and DeWayne McBride in 2023. McBride is a powerful runner while Chandler can function as a speedy receiving back.

If the Vikings decided to keep Cook, they most likely would have to move on from one of the trio or kick returner Kene Nwangwu. It would make Chandler and McBride bad investments if they never get a chance to see the field. Most teams only keep four running backs and the Vikings currently sit at six, including fullback C.J. Ham who received a contract extension.

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