Longtime Viking to Be Released after 6 Seasons

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been blessed with total running back continuity for the last 16 years, dating back to the 2007 NFL Draft with the selection of Adrian Peterson, through the addition of a certain Florida State alumnus in 2017.

Longtime Viking to Be Released after 6 Seasons

But the star-studded era of running backs intermixed with Vikings football came to a temporary end Thursday, as Dalvin Cook will be released, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Schefter tweeted Thursday, “Vikings have informed Dalvin Cook that he’s being released, per source.”

Cook, 27, can now presumably join any NFL team for Year No. 7 and perhaps catch on for another productive season.

Longtime Viking to
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook departs the Vikings as the franchise’s third-leading rusher in franchise history (5,993 yards) behind Adrian Peterson (11,747) and Robert Smith (6,818). His 47 rushing touchdowns rank fourth behind Peterson (97), Chuck Foreman (52), and Bil Brown (52). And his rushing yards per game (82.1) are second, only trailing Peterson (95.5).

Next for the Vikings at running back? Simple — a committee. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed Cook’s teammate Alexander Mattison in March for two years and $7 million. Mattison will pair with second-year halfback Ty Chandler, third-year KR/HB Kene Nwangwu, and rookie DeWayne McBride for RB duty in 2023.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Cook fought injury demons in his freshman and sophomore seasons of 2017 and 2018, but after that, he somehow morphed into one of the most durable running backs in the business — and nobody really talks about it. From 2019 to 2022, Cook played in 58 of 66 games, the 11th-most in the NFL among tailbacks, while tallying the third-most rushing yards (5,024) in the timeframe. Only Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans) and Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns) tabulated more yards on the ground in the last four seasons.

The Vikings also lose an unabashed locker room leader in Cook, of which replacement is no small task. Indeed, the Mattison-Chandler-Nwangwu-McBride foursome may thrive on statsheets given the carries, but someone not named Cook must step up to fill Cook’s captaincy. Perhaps it can be Mattison.

Well, the Vikings Now Have a 2x4.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota ran the ball the third least in 2022 and was on deck to swallow a $14.1 million cap hit with Cook on the roster, a salary in the league’s top tier for running backs. It never really made sense, heading into the offseason, to employ an expensive halfback on a team that rarely ran the ball, at least compared to other teams.

The release will save the Vikings $9 million against the 2023 cap.

Cook ripped off a few mammoth touchdowns in 2022, most of which were game-saving scampers. His overall production dipped via analytical metrics, but Cook kept the homerun ball in his toolkit.

The Vikings will embark on the upcoming season with a running back named Peterson or Cook for the first time in 17 years.

The Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos are expected to express free-agent interest in Cook.


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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