Trade Sweepstakes for Dalvin Cook Could Be Down to 1 Team

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The Minnesota Vikings extended Alexander Mattison’s contract Wednesday night, seemingly reducing the odds of incumbent RB1 Dalvin Cook’s return in 2023.

Both men could still headline the Vikings RB room in September, but with Cook’s gaudy $14.1 million cap hit scheduled for 2023, the probability of his return — at the same pricetag — is slim.

Trade Sweepstakes for Dalvin Cook Could Be Down to 1 Team

Accordingly, Cook, 27, has been the subject of semi-frequent trade rumors in the last week, although the Vikings compensation for such a deal is unclear. Cook could fetch a 3rd-Rounder; he could command a 7th-Round pick. The NFL’s trade market is funky and wildly erratic.

Trade Sweepstakes for Dalvin Cook Could Be Down to 1 Team
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And if the Cook Sweepstakes are still alive — a decision should be made on his future with the Vikings by Friday — one team may be the final participant, the Atlanta Falcons. Scour every team’s depth chart with four days of free agency in the books, and Atlanta is one of the few, if only, with a rather underwhelming RB situation. The team employs Tyler Allgeier and former Viking Cordarrelle Patterson, in addition to some somewhat anonymous depth halfbacks.

If the Falcons aren’t intrigued by a rookie RB in April’s draft, Cook could fascinate Atlanta, especially if his trade price is smaller than Austin Ekeler’s, who requested a trade from the Los Angeles Chargers earlier this week.

Former Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is also available to sign as a free agent on the open market.

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Commenting on possible trade partners for Cook on Monday, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson mentioned the Miami Dolphins and Falcons as dance partners. And after a Cook-Dolphins deal might’ve fallen through earlier this week — the Dolphins basically re-signed their 2022 running backs on Tuesday and Wednesday — the Falcons may be “it” for trade-team candidates.

The Vikings ran the football the third least in the business last year, preferring to pass ad nauseam under former-quarterback head coach Kevin O’Connell. The playcalling split left fans wondering for the upcoming 2023 season — will the Vikings employ the league’s fifth-most expensive running back and run the ball at a comparatively low clip?

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The answer feels like probably not. Yet, every day that Cook remains on the roster, fans wrestle with new theories on whether Cook could financially ride again in 2023 — a restructured contract or paycut? While speculating about a Dolphins or Falcons trade, the aforementioned Wolfson also surmised, “I still see him [Cook] here right now in 2023.”

Theoretically, Minnesota could release Cook before June 1st and save $5.8 million in cap space or after June 1st and gain back $9 million. Because those savings are somewhat vast, Cook has been nominated as a possible salary-cap casualty for two months.

With Friday as the quasi-deadline on a Cook verdict, keep an eye on the Falcons, a team with approximately $33.6 million in cap space as of March 16th.

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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