The Plot Thickens on Dalvin Cook’s Future

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Dalvin Cook has already encountered an odyssey this offseason, and a decision hasn’t been made yet about his future with the Vikings.

Cook is scheduled to incur the NFL’s fifth-largest cap hit among running backs against the Vikings books in 2023, a $14.1 million sum that may or may not be viewed favorably by Minnesota’s analytics-focused front office.

The Plot Thickens on Dalvin Cook’s Future

The Vikings ran the football the third least in the business last year, preferring to pass ad nauseam under former-quarterback head coach Kevin O’Connell. The playcalling split left fans wondering for the upcoming 2023 season — will the Vikings employ the league’s fifth-most expensive running back and run the ball at a comparatively low clip?

The Plot Thickens on
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Theoretically, Minnesota could release Cook before June 1st and save $5.8 million in cap space or after June 1st and gain back $9 million. Because those savings are somewhat vast, Cook has been nominated as a possible salary-cap casualty as the Vikings face a standing of $24 million over the cap with less than two weeks before free agency begins.

But not so fast on any cap-casualty chatter, implied NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero this week. Pelissero joined Paul Allen on KFAN and explained, “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.”

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But earlier this week, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was asked about Cook’s future at the NFL Combine, and he called Cook a “great player and a great leader.”

“In the NFL, you have a lot of constraints, salary cap, different things, and we’re trying to figure out how we can operate in those things,” Adofo-Mensah added.

And that doesn’t sound too committal in the grand scheme of an NFL offseason. On the other hand, Adofo-Mensah was wildly all-in about Justin Jefferson’s future in purple at the same media appearance. He was asked about ongoing contractual extension discussions between Jefferson and the franchise, and stated, “I don’t want to be the Vikings GM without that guy on the roster.”

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But wait, there’s more. Cook’s agent, Zac Hiller, posted a photo and caption to Instagram Monday:

https://twitter.com/thatvikingsfan8/status/1630272218809638914?s=20

The dig at the Vikings references the aforementioned playcalling split from 2022. Hiller believes the Vikings should run the football more, effectuating a more balanced attack with the run and pass, especially when a Pro Bowl halfback is employed at a handsome pricetag. Even with a small percentage of run plays, though, Cook placed sixth in the NFL via rushing yards last year. He recorded 1,173 yards on the ground and 10 total touchdowns.

If the Cook saga wasn’t topsy-turvy enough, he had surgery two weeks ago to repair a broken shoulder he suffered in the 2019 season. After the procedure, Cook tweeted, “Everything great !! Now let’s get a Super Bowl !! ??.”

That tweet sure sounds like a player who wants to win a chip with the Vikings.

Overall, 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 apparent desire to return with the Vikings, his agent’s frustration with the team’s playcalling, and the franchise’s skimpy cap-space predicament.

Thankfully, a verdict on Cook’s 2023 status should be rendered soon.


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.