Trades Incoming? The Value of Dalvin Cook & Za’Darius Smith.

The Vikings Top Offensive Performers v.s Bears, per PFF
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About five weeks ago, Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith tweeted, “I just want to say ‘Thank you!’ to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization! ?.”

Four days later, the Vikings signed free-agent pass rusher Marcus Davenport for what most describe as “Za’Darius’ job.”

Four weeks ago, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed running back Alexander Mattison to a two-year, $7 million agreement.

Trades Incoming? The Value of Dalvin Cook & Za’Darius Smith.

Both transactions shared shock-value equity. Nobody knew Smith was disgruntled, and most Vikings fans considered Mattison a goner on his way to fetch more money with another RB-needy team.

And with Smith still on the Vikings roster two weeks before the NFL draft, plus Cook continually surrounded by trade conjecture, Minnesota could trade one or both men before or during the draft.

Here’s what trade capital Minnesota can fetch.

Dalvin Cook

Trades Incoming
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook had should surgery this offseason to repair an ailment that apparently nagged for three years. His 2023 cap hit is $14.1 million, a sum likely not embraced by Adofo-Mensah, an analytics-focused executive. In theory, Cook could take a paycut and remain in Minnesota — but why would he do that?

Six months ago, the San Francisco 49ers paid the Carolina Panthers a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th-Rounder for Christian McCaffrey (26 years old). Jacksonville Jaguars halfback James Robinson (24) was dealt to the New York Jets for a 6th-Rounder four days later. In 2019, the Miami Dolphins acquired an at-the-peak-of-his-power Kenyan Drake (25) for a 5th-Rounder.

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Cook is still ultra-productive even if his yards-over-expected metrics have dipped. He — and perhaps he alone — saved about 2-3 Vikings games in 2022. He’ll be 28 when the regular season starts. His trade value likely lives somewhere between McCaffrey, Robinson, and Drake.

Estimated Trade Value = 4th Rounder
Teams to Monitor = Falcons, Broncos, Chargers, Bengals, Bills

Za’Darius Smith

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith stuffed statsheets like a Turkey for about half the 2022 season. Then, the sack numbers descended to Hades while the QB pressures remained about the same. And because the sacks didn’t fly into box scores, most believe Smith “hit a wall” or played injured.

Whether that’s true is debatable, but folks know one thing for sure — he announced he didn’t want to play for the Vikings, and the club didn’t release him.

He’s probably getting traded, sans a Kumbaya with Vikings brass. If the two parties did reconcile, Minnesota would employ one of the deepest EDGE groups in the business with Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Marcus Davenport, Patrick Jones, and D.J. Wonnum.

2022 Vikings Basic Betting Odds Tracker
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Last October, the Chicago Bears traded Robert Quinn (32) to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th-Round pick. The year before, the Kansas City Chiefs acquired Melvin Ingram (32) for a 6th-Rounder. In 2020, the Vikings dealt Yannick Ngakoue (25) to the Baltimore Ravens for a 3rd- and 5th-Rounder.

Like Cook above, Smith’s value is in the middle.

Estimated Trade Value = 5th Rounder
Teams to Monitor = 49ers, Ravens, Falcons, Cardinals, Seahawks


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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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