Dalvin Cook’s New Teammate Feels Odd

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Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Almost more than any other sport, it’s the NFL where continuity with one team isn’t something that happens over the course of a career. Dalvin Cook was never going to play solely for the Vikings, especially as a running back, but lining up behind Aaron Rodgers feels weird.

Dalvin Cook’s New Teammate Feels Odd

The Green Bay Packers watched a second significant quarterback tenure come to an end this offseason. With Aaron Rodgers ending his era with the green and gold, it was deemed Jordan Love’s time to take over. Headed to the New York Jets, as his predecessor Brett Favre did, Rodgers also teams up with Vikings fan favorite, Cook.

Teammate Feels
May 23, 2023; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) warms up during OTA’s at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Jones-USA TODAY Sports.

When Favre went to the Jets, it felt like an odd landing spot with a team not necessarily poised to make noise. It isn’t certain that New York will be substantially better with Rodgers, but he is a massive upgrade over the young Zach Wilson. Bringing Cook along with him for the ride, though, NFC North competitors now join forces in a way that seems weird to process.

As Rodgers first landed in New York, he appeared determined to bring as much familiarity with him as possible. The Jets signed Allen Lazard and then grabbed the ghost of Randall Cobb. He reunited with lineman Billy Turner, and there was talk of more offensive weapons coming with him. Cook played on the opposite sideline of Rodgers, but the two obviously know each other well.

Joining an offense that includes former Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin, Cook brings the highest profile to the Packers-quarterbacked team. No matter how consistently these scenarios play out across the league, they never get any less odd to swallow.

There Is a Dalvin Cook Plot Twist
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 Cook, he’ll be looking to re-establish himself as a premier back in the league. New York certainly doesn’t have the receiving threats Minnesota possesses, and while Breece Hall should be expected to start ahead of him, Cook’s per-run outcomes can grow. He was available for all 17 games in 2022 but saw dips across the board.

Rodgers is more than familiar with a two-back system. Green Bay has had combinations matched with Aaron Jones for years. Although the top backs in those systems haven’t challenged for the rushing lead, both have often found a way to be effective. Nathaniel Hackett will look to accomplish something similar behind Rodgers in the form of Hall and Cook’s tandem.

Thankfully the band-aid won’t have to be ripped off for Vikings fans. Minnesota doesn’t face the Jets during the regular season this year, and if the two meet in the Super Bowl, Vikings fans would gladly take a beatdown of Rodgers and Cook.

May 23, 2023; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) speaks at a press conference after practice at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports.

The last time Minnesota needed to get used to such an odd pairing was arguably when Favre himself came to the Vikings. After a short stint with the Jets, he put on purple and led Minnesota to an NFC Championship game. There was definitely some hesitation among fans with the signing, but ultimately it worked out well for everyone involved. Should Rodgers go down the same path, it remains to be seen what the reception would be.

After Cook’s departure, the Vikings move on to a new lead back for the first time in years. Cook ushered out the Adrian Peterson era, and consistency at the position had been held for quite some time. Mattison doesn’t immediately appear to be the next long-tenured back, but that narrative can unfold in the years to come.

For now, when Minnesota fans catch Jets games, they’ll have to stomach Cook helping Rodgers after the pair competed in opposite directions for so many seasons.

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.