The Vikings Dodged an RB Bullet

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah & Kevin O’Connell Talk Free Agent Moves, Future at Quarterback & 2023 NFL Draft in Eagan, Minnesota, on April 13th, 2023. Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell joined the organization in January and February 2022, respectively.

I’m not sure Minnesota ever seriously considered retaining the services of running back Dalvin Cook, even if he decided to restructure his contract. He was a fan favorite and plenty productive after being selected out of Florida State, but each week, he looks worse for the New York Jets.

The Vikings Dodged an RB Bullet

When the Minnesota Vikings looked at the running back room coming into the 2023 NFL regular season, they probably didn’t get the warm fuzzies. Alexander Mattison was brought back as the lead runner, but he was backed up by Ty Chandler and a few question marks. It didn’t take long for the acquisition of Cam Akers to be necessary, but no matter what, looking back on Dalvin Cook hasn’t been necessary.

Vikings Dodged an RB
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

You could have forced some truth serum upon Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell before the 2022 season, and they may have let slip that it would be Cook’s last year in Minnesota. He was an aging talent, and the cap hit would be tremendous. Then he went out and played.

Despite being involved in O’Connell’s forward-thinking offense for the first time in his career, production had never been worse. He played in all 17 games, which was a nice testament to his availability, but the 4.4 yards per carry was a career worst, and the 69 yards per game was the lowest output since he became a regular starter.

It was evidently clear that Cook didn’t have the same burst, and with nearly 1,300 attempts on his legs solely within the NFL, the end was getting closer for the 28-year-old. It’s not necessarily an age where you expect a dropoff, but Cook has been putting on substantial miles for quite some time.

Sep 17, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) hands off to running back Dalvin Cook (33) in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

After it took a while for him to find a new home and a handful of potential suitors to say no, the New York Jets offered Cook a contract. While they were getting Breece Hall back after a lost year due to injury, Cook looked the part of a capable veteran to provide a one-two punch. Even after Aaron Rodgers succumbed to a season-ending injury, Zach Wilson should’ve been able to rely on Cook as a nice security blanket.

Four weeks into the 2023 regular season, Dalvin looks cooked with a lack of explosiveness and has no creativity in his running attempts. He had gained a miserable 58 yards on 25 attempts, and his longest yard was only for ten yards. With Wilson looking to orchestrate a comeback during a Sunday Night Football contest against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cook managed a paltry 16 yards on his five carries while routinely running into roadblocks.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Cam Akers (31) runs after the catch defended by Carolina Panthers safety Xavier Woods (25) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

To be fair, the Vikings running back room has not been anything to write home about this season. It wasn’t until a road win against the Carolina Panthers that Mattison put up anything to be proud of. With Akers now taking touches, he may have felt extra motivation to hold onto his job, but the results were solid nonetheless.

Understandably, Minnesota needed help at the running back position, but it’s become beyond clear that Cook was not the right option and a solid decision was made to thank him for his services before looking elsewhere.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.