Vikings Schedule Graphic Fuels Dalvin Cook Speculation

3 Vikings You Gotta Watch at DET
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The Minnesota Vikings used three prominent offensive players to unveil the team’s 2023 schedule on Instagram — Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Alexander Mattison.

While that’s fine and dandy, the takeaway by some was a certain player’s exclusion: Dalvin Cook.

Vikings Schedule Graphic Fuels Dalvin Cook Speculation

In three graphics, Minnesota revealed the team’s 2023 opponents, and smack dab in the middle lived Mattison, not Cook:

Vikings Schedule Graphic
Image Courtesy of Minnesota Vikings on Instagram

Technically, Cook is the Vikings RB1 on the depth chart, so using Mattison for the image is a little backward. But Cook’s RB1 assignment feels merely symbolic at the moment, as most Vikings fans expect Mattison to take the first hand-off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 10th.

For context, here’s the Vikings full schedule:

  • Week 1: Buccaneers (9/10)
  • Week 2: at Eagles (9/14, TNF)
  • Week 3: Chargers (9/24)
  • Week 4: at Panthers (10/1)
  • Week 5: Chiefs (10/8)
  • Week 6: at Bears (10/15)
  • Week 7: 49ers (10/23, MNF)
  • Week 8: at Packers (10/29)
  • Week 9: at Falcons (11/5)
  • Week 10: Saints (11/12)
  • Week 11: at Broncos (11/19, SNF)
  • Week 12: Bears (11/27, MNF)
  • Week 13: BYE
  • Week 14: at Raiders (12/10)
  • Week 15: at Bengals (TBD)
  • Week 16: Lions (12/24)
  • Week 17: Packers (12/31, SNF)
  • Week 18: at Lions (1/7)
Trade Sweepstakes for Dalvin Cook Could Be Down to 1 Team
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Cook has been the subject of trade and release rumors for over two months. He’s slated for a $14.1 million cap hit in 2023, a sum believed too rich for the Vikings pocketbook. And when the Vikings re-signed Mattison in March for two years and $7 million, that seemed like the writing on the wall that Cook would be traded or released.

But then nothing happened. Cook remains on the depth chart. The team could be waiting for June 1st to fire off the trade or release the 27-year-old.

Meet the Frontrunner
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If the Vikings release Cook before June 1st, the club would save $5.9 million with an $8.2 million cap penalty. After that date, it’s $9 million in savings with a $5.1 million cap penalty. For a trade, sending Cook elsewhere before June 1st would save $7.8 million and fetch a mid-to-late round draft pick. Offloading Cook after June 1st via trade would save $11 million with a $3.1 million penalty. A numbers game.

Talking about Cook’s status last weekend, ESPN’s Adam Schefter opined, “I think there is some real question as to whether or not he will be in Minnesota this upcoming season. I think it’s fair to say his future is in question.”

about Dalvin Cook
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

While a graphic on Instagram isn’t gospel, it feels like further evidence that Cook will be traded or released in about three weeks. Otherwise, why not use the RB1’s picture to release the schedule? Using the backup in a lineup of starters is a bit odd.

Cook is the Vikings third-leading rusher in franchise history behind Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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