The Plot Thickens on Dalvin Cook’s Free Agency

The Vikings 2022 Offense by the Numbers: After Week 6
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) tackles Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings released Dalvin Cook on Friday after six years with the club, sending the halfback to free agency for the first time in his career.

Cook can sign anywhere in the NFL as soon as now.

The Plot Thickens on Dalvin Cook’s Free Agency

But when Cook and his agent sign on some club’s dotted line, the 27-year-old won’t play on a menial or team-friendly contract. Cook doesn’t plan to be ‘one of those’ running backs who take a smallish deal in a league where RB value is dwindling.

Thickens on Dalvin
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) gets tripped up by New York Giants safety Tony Jefferson (36) during the third quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings extended Cook late in the summer of 2020, and in the last three seasons, he ranks second in yards from scrimmage and sixth in touchdowns among running backs. One of the frequent knocks on Cook at the time of extension was health, but after the extension, he instantly became one of the most durable tailbacks in the business. He ranks fifth in games started among RBs since 2020, playing 88% of Vikings games.

Accordingly, he won’t settle for a tiny contract, according to NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero. In the aftermath of Cook’s release, Pelissero appeared on The Rich Eisen Show and explained, “Dalvin Cook, I would fairly say, is not coming in for $4 or $5 million. This is going to be a significant contract.”

Meet the Frontrunner
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) tackles Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook still wants to munify his earning power, and turning 28 in August, he should have one to three productive seasons left in the tank.

“My understanding is they’re open to both a one-year deal and multi-year deal. This could move quickly, or Dalvin could sit back knowing he’s got $2 million guaranteed from his Vikings contract, wait, and see how things fall if he doesn’t like the offers he’s got up front here,” Pelissero continued.

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.

Cook is expected to command ample attention on the open market, with the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and perhaps Buffalo Bills as oft-mentioned suitors, at least per roster fit and cap space availability.

Pelissero concluded, “But I do anticipate fully that he’s going to be on a team by the time we get to the regular season.”

The Chef Couldn't Cook in DET
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs with the ball against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook was scheduled for a $14.1 million cap hit with the Vikings in 2023, a number too rich for an analytics-focused general manager’s blood. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed Cook’s teammate, Alexander Mattison, in March for two years and $7 million, and the veteran halfback is on deck for RB1 duty in Cook’s stead this season.

Some team will land Cook at a handsome pricetag, and Minnesota will embark on life without Adrian Peterson or Dalvin Cook on the RB section of the depth chart for the first time since 2006.

If Cook signs a contract around $8 million or so, he’ll be the 10th highest-paid running back in the league per average annual value.

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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