It’s an AFC East Arms Race for Former Vikings Playmaker

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The longest-spanning Minnesota Vikings-themed story of 2023, former Vikings running back Dalvin Cook remains a free agent.

It’s an AFC East Arms Race for Former Vikings Playmaker

The dust kicked up on Cook theories in March when the Vikings re-signed Alexander Mattison for two years and $7 million. Many believed Cook would be traded before or during the 2023 NFL Draft, but that didn’t materialize, and Minnesota formally released Cook on June 9th. His $14.1 million cap hit in 2023 was too rich for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Fast forward to late July, the start of NFL training camps, and the AFC East appears to be hosting an arms race for the 27-year-old. At the moment, the teams most commonly linked to Cook’s free agency included the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins.

AFC East Arms Race
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Cook is from Miami, and when the rumors began in March, the Dolphins were the number-one-with-a-bullet theory on his eventual destination, chiefly because of the hometown angle. But Cook said on The Rich Eisen Show Monday that the Dolphins hadn’t issued a formal offer. Without Cook, Miami employs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, rookie DeVon Achane, Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed — a crowded house, to be sure.

Still, the Dolphins live in the Cook rumor mill and won’t leave until he signs on some team’s dotted line.

Crickets So Far
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Meanwhile, the Patriots sounded tangibly interested in Cook this week and are actually the Vegas frontrunner to sign the ex-Viking. New England’s Director of Player Personnel, Matt Groh, was asked about Cook’s chances of landing with the Patriots for 2023, and he didn’t rule it out, “You don’t see guys of this talent available at this time of the year. It’s a unique situation.”

New England employs running backs Rhmondre Stevenson, Ty Montgomery, and Pierre Strong, among others, and could stand to add some playmaking oomph in hopes of making life easier for quarterback Mac Jones.

Is There a Dalvin
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Finally, and possibly the real-life favorite to add Cook, the Jets are in the mix, too. Former Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin has recruited Cook this offseason, and head coach Robert Saleh echoed the Groh sentiment about Cook when asked about his free agency, “Obviously, you never want to say no to a great player.”

Cook ranks fourth in rushing yards since joining the NFL in 2017.

“I’ll leave [GM] Joe [Douglas] to that one. I know there’s a lot of contractual stuff that goes with it. But he is a good one,” Saleh said last week about Cook.

The National Folks Picking the Jets over Vikings
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Other teams casually mentioned amid The Cook Sweepstakes include the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and Denver Broncos. The Bills feature Cook’s brother, James, as RB1 on the current depth chart. Dallas may want to hedge the bet against last year’s injury to Tony Pollard. And Denver RB1 Javonte Williams is also recovering from a grim 2022 injury.

On the whole, if you’re asked to predict which team signs Cooks, just say, “AFC East something.”

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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