Dalvin Cook Could End up Back in NFC

The Vikings Top Offensive Performers v.s Bears, per PFF
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For a second consecutive summer, some curious minds wonder where Dalvin Cook might land.

Dalvin Cook Could End up Back in NFC

Cook left the Minnesota Vikings last June, marinated on the open market for a couple of months, and eventually joined the New York Jets. The experiment never took off, and Cook later asked for his release and wound up on the Baltimore Ravens’ depth chart for an abbreviated playoff push.

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Now, as the veteran runner examines the NFL’s lay of the land, some believe he could join the Dallas Cowboys in 2024 — and fire up a reunion with Mike Zimmer, Dallas’ new defensive coordinator.

Back in March, Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken speculated that the Cowboys could sign Cook or Ezekiel Elliott: “Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook are two veteran options who stand to draw strong club consideration as free agency progresses. Elliott spent seven seasons in Dallas from 2016-22. Cook would reunite with Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, his head coach on the Minnesota Vikings from 2017-21.”

Former Viking Has Chance
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Elliott signed in Dallas at the end of April — so DMN was correct.

Then, last week, Athlon Sports’ Will Riggs weighed in on Cook to Cowboys, “While a lot of teams employ a running back by committee approach, there is usually one legitimate starter in the bunch. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their bell cow in this scenario is Elliott, who could be past his prime at age 28. Some believe that free agent running back Dalvin Cook will ultimately sign with the Cowboys. He has a long history with new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer who was his head coach in Minnesota.”

If the Cowboys add no new running backs, they will feature Rico Dowdle, Ezekiel Elliott, and Deuce Vaughn. And that trio can reasonably called one of the worst in the NFL, at least on paper.

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“After a dismal season last year, Cook might not be any better than Elliott, however, he is only one season removed from four straight 1,000-yard seasons. One thing is for sure, regardless of who they sign, the Cowboys need help in the backfield if they want to contend for a Super Bowl this season,” Riggs added.

Last month, Cook personally told KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, “I’m still Dalvin Cook. I’m still that guy. For me, I don’t like to toot my own horn. I just like to go out there, put my helmet on and line up on the grass I think last year was really like a learning curve for me. I got kind of itchy. At the time it was coming, the season. It was where I wanted to go and now it’s about the opportunities are going to come. It’s about what are you going to do with it. For me, patience is the key, so let’s just stay ready and stay confident it’s going to explode.”

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Cook rushed for 214 yards on 67 carries in 2023, a vast drop-off from 1,173 yards on 264 carries during his final season with the Vikings. He left the Vikings in 2023 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 Bill Brown (52). And his rushing yards per game (82.1) are second, only trailing Peterson (95.5).

Generally speaking, Cook to Dallas makes sense, though it’s unclear if he could rekindle his career to 2021 form.

He’ll turn 29 in August.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.