Dalvin Cook’s Trade Price Comes into Focus

Dalvin Cook
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For two months, Minnesota Vikings fans have wondered what the team’s 2023 RB room would entail, mainly because most believed incumbent RB1 Dalvin Cook could leave the team. Cook is scheduled for a fat $14.1 million cap hit this season, and the analytics-focused general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, is probably skittish about tossing that sum in his direction.

Cook was effective in 2022, hitting home runs via touchdown scampers, but his general productivity dipped compared to years past. His yards per carry and yards over expected metrics dipped.

Dalvin Cook’s Trade Price Comes into Focus

Still, Cook saved about three Vikings games from ruin, and that ain’t nothin’.

Trade Price Comes
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The Florida State alumnus also turns 28 before the 2023 regular season, and even productive tailbacks historically begin a downturn around that age. For all these reasons, it feels rather elementary that Cook won’t be back. He’s hinted at an exit, too, on Instagram last week, covering up the Vikings logo in a photo of himself — a tactic he wouldn’t have dreamed about one year ago.

Well, last weekend, Cook’s trade price came into focus, courtesy of the Pioneer Press. Charley Walters wrote, “The Dalvin Cook trade, probably to his hometown Miami Dolphins, could occur anytime, even this summer. The best the Vikings can expect for Cook, who turns 28 just before the season, is a fifth-round draft pick.”

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“The problem for the Vikings is Cook’s $11 million salary for next season. The Dolphins also figure he isn’t worth that much, so why give up much when they know the Vikings aren’t going to pay him that much. If a trade can’t work, the Vikings might just have to release Cook,” Walters concluded.

So, a 5th-rounder is the latest and greatest theory — and isn’t too far off the speculation from eight weeks ago. Some forecasted a 4th-Round pick or so, while others realize running backs’ value is in the toilet according to modern NFL standards. A 5th-Rounder checks out.

If the Vikings release Cook before June 1st, the club would save $5.9 million with an $8.2 million cap penalty. After that date, it’s $9 million in savings with a $5.1 million cap penalty. For a trade, sending Cook elsewhere before June 1st would save $7.8 million and fetch a mid-to-late round draft pick — like the Walters’ theory. Offloading Cook after June 1st via trade would save $11 million with a $3.1 million penalty. 

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Minnesota re-signed longtime RB2 Alexander Mattison in March for two years and $7 million, seeming to preview the end of Cook’s career with the Vikings. However, in an alternate reality, Cook could accept a paycut and remain with the team indefinitely, although that outcome is unlikely — because why would Cook tolerate less money.

Finally, the Vikings drafted UAB’s DeWayne McBride on Saturday, a workhouse-style back who will also require carries before too long. The writing on the wall is very bold that Cook’s days are numbered with the Vikings.

Cook ranks third in franchise history with 5,993 rushing yards.

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.