Is Dalvin Cook Still on the Move?

Flashback Friday: Vikings Blow Out Dolphins in 2018
Dec 16, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have begun to sort out their 2023 roster through free agency. Players have been jettisoned, and new names have been brought in. One longstanding player remains in the fold, which is somewhat of a surprise.

Dalvin Cook is still here.

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

For the first time in his career, Dalvin Cook successfully made it through a complete season. The former 2nd-round pick has always looked the part of an explosive back, but he has never been able to escape injury issues. Despite a longer 17-game schedule, the Vikings star played in each contest under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Is Dalvin Cook Still on the Move?

The problem in playing all those games is that Cook’s production was not where it once was. Yes, he eclipsed 1,000 yards yet again, but his 1,173 yards were the lowest total he has posted since 2019, and that came in just 14 games. While O’Connell would always utilize a more progressive offense, the thought was that Cook would be more involved as a whole.

Not only did Cook not rack up yards on the ground as he traditionally has, but he was surprisingly nonexistent in the passing game. Cook’s 4.4 yards per carry were a career low, and his 295 receiving yards only slightly bested last year’s 224 yards in just 13 games. Any way you slice it, the reality is that Cook’s role in the Vikings offense was diminished.

Dalvin Cook Still
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

This offseason, Minnesota made it a priority to re-sign backup, Alexander Mattison. There was some thought he could go and get a starting gig somewhere else, but with the Vikings, he’s a capable starter as well. The discussions surrounding his role in 2023 have not been made public, but he stands in line to get the bulk of the work should Cook be dealt.

The salary tied to Cook for 2023 is not to be overlooked. Minnesota is on the hook for over $14 million, and releasing him would cause a dead cap number of more than $8 million. That reality, combined with his aging and production waning, was thought to spark a need for change. What the Vikings could get for him through a trade remains to be seen, but something like a third-round pick could be lofty at best.

Vikings Have 7 Possible
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

At the end of the day, Minnesota has no reason to give Cook away. They needed another playmaker alongside Justin Jefferson even before they added T.J. Hockenson. Now Adam Thielen is gone, and Cook’s departure would create another hole in the offense. It makes sense to move on from the running back if a pivot elsewhere can be had, but simply dealing him to free up space that is not better utilized elsewhere makes no sense.

Maybe the Vikings will find a worthy trade partner as the draft draws nearer, but right now, it seems Cook is going to stay put.

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.