Dalvin Cook Thickens the Trade Discourse

Vikings Might Pounce
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) looks on prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings endured about six months’ worth of strange Stefon Diggs tweets three years ago, so they’re well-versed on the topic.

Fast forward to 2023, and one Vikings playmaker could be heading to a different team before too long — Dalvin Cook. And not quite to a Diggsian level but still eyebrow-raising, Cook posted an intriguing nugget of his own to Instagram on Monday.

Dalvin Cook Thickens the Trade Discourse

And on the same day, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted, “Vikings RB Dalvin Cook was recently in Minnesota for a post-surgery checkup on his shoulder and is said to be making excellent progress, per sources. Cook played the last three seasons while protecting the injured shoulder, which is now 100% stable and stronger.”

Dalvin Cook Thickens
Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of an NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports.

So, the man is getting healthier and ready for the 2023 season, his seventh in the NFL. This was his social media correspondence on the same day as the Pelissero tweet:

Image Courtesy of Dalvin Cook

Of course, this can be interpreted per the eye of the beholder. “To be continued” might be a nod to the Vikings upcoming season, a team on tap to employ Cook for the next three seasons per his contract. Otherwise, the more nailbiting aspect, “to be continued,” could be an acknowledgment of a Vikings afterlife when Cook takes the RB1 reins with a new team.

Minnesota chose Cook in the 2nd Round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he’s been the team’s true-blue RB1 since. His cap hit for 2023 is scheduled at a sizable $14.1 million, so Cook has been the subject of the trade rumor mill for about a month.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hands the ball off to running back Dalvin Cook (4) against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed Cook’s teammate Alexander Mattison a couple of weeks ago for two years and $7 million, seeming to imply Mattison will take over Cook’s job in September. Most consider a healthy Cook a better running back than Mattison, but folks get disillusioned by Cook’s mammoth 2023 price tag. Because the cap hit is so large, many believed Cook would be traded or released this offseason.

Not long ago, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson mentioned the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons as possible trade dance partners. But after a Cook-Dolphins deal appeared to fall through — the Dolphins basically re-signed their 2022 running backs — the alleged Cook trade sweepstakes became quiescent.

Nearing Divorce
Nov 16, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) during warms ups before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports.

Seven weeks ago, Cook’s agent, Zac Hiller, posted a photo and caption to Instagram expressing frustration with the Vikings 2022 playcalling.

At the beginning of March, the aforementioned Pelissero joined Paul Allen on KFAN and explained Cook’s future, “He’s got two million that becomes fully guaranteed next week. He’s coming off shoulder surgery. So, that money is locked in already. I would anticipate he’s absolutely on the team.”

Vikings fans must ponder Pelissero’s theory about Cook returning in 2023, the balance of a “Wall Street guy” in Adofo-Mensah paying running backs, Cook’s potential desire to return with the Vikings, his agent’s frustration with the team’s playcalling, and the franchise’s need for extra draft picks (which could be accrued with a Cook trade).

The saga has been “to be continued” indeed, as referenced by Cook this week. Preparing for a Cook trade is probably the smartest bet.

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.