The Minnesota Vikings have made a slew of high-profile cuts this NFL offseason. Veterans Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen were released, and then Za’Darius Smith was traded for pennies on the dollar. Now, Dalvin Cook is the latest and most high-profile cap casualty to fall to Minnesota’s roster renovations.
NFL Fans React to Dalvin Cook’s Latest Demand
The move is believed to be primarily money motivated. According to Sports Illustrated, Minnesota will gain about $9 million in cap space with the release of Cook.
Now the four-time Pro Bowl running back is seeking his next employer. And it sounds like he knows his worth. Speaking with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero recently, Cook revealed what he’s looking for from his next ball club:
“I want the value. I want somebody who wants Dalvin Cook.”
Dalvin Cook speaking to @TomPelissero about what he’s looking for in his next team: “I want the value. I want somebody who wants Dalvin Cook.”
Adds that he wants to go to a team that’s going to give him the ball often
— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) June 13, 2023
Another CBS Sports report quoted Pelissero’s takeaways from his interview with Cook, and it doesn’t sound like the veteran back is willing to settle for pennies on the dollar. Instead, he’s seeking compensation in the neighborhood of $10 million per year.
So he wants to be paid and earn it, fair enough, but teams don’t value the RB unfortunately. Too many good options available for cheap.
— Zach H (@ZachFinsUp) June 13, 2023
Sounds like money is his priority.
— Red Horse Adventures (@RedHorseAdvent) June 13, 2023
translation, "pay me."
— nate (@battl2heaven) June 13, 2023
Which Landing Spots Make the Most Sense for Dalvin Cook?
Cook’s been linked to several teams so far during his foray into free agency. The Miami Dolphins are considered to be among the early favorites. For one, Cook hails from the Miami area. He’d also get to play with an exciting corps featuring emergent QB Tua Tagovailoa and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Miami’s running backs last season, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., were effective and cost-effective. But Miami has a workable amount of cap space ($13.9 million per Over the Cap) and a compelling reason to load up now if they’re to compete for the buzzsaw that is the AFC East.
In fact, Cook’s been connected to three of the four AFC East clubs already. The New York Jets are all in on Aaron Rodgers, but the 39-year-old’s window is finite. The Jets could hope for Breece Hall, whose standout 2022 season ended prematurely due to a torn ACL, to return to form right away this season. Or they could mitigate the issue by adding a standout of Cook’s caliber into the mix, even if on a short-term deal.
The Buffalo Bills, similarly, have questions in the backfield. James Cook, Dalvin’s brother, and former New England Patriot Damien Harris project to share the load right now, with veteran third-down back Nyheim Hines contributing as well. The group should be sufficient, but Cook would undeniably be an upgrade. He’d probably welcome the opportunity to play with his brother (not to mention Josh Allen) if Buffalo can make the money work.
One other club worth mentioning for Cook’s service is the Denver Broncos. Much like the Jets, Denver has a veteran under center (Russell Wilson) and a banged-up young standout at running back (Javonte Williams). After struggling mightily on offense in 2022, it’d behoove the Broncos to upgrade its arsenal wherever possible. A standout like Cook would certainly fit the bill.
Dalvin Cook’s Career So Far
As mentioned earlier, Cook is a four-time Pro Bowler. Though he struggled with injuries early in his pro career, he’s been remarkably durable and productive since 2019.
Cook’s per-season averages from 2019-2022 come out to 268 carries, 1,256 yards, and 11 touchdowns on the ground, plus an additional 42 receptions and 350 yards through the air.
One can see why he expects to get paid.
When producing 1,600 yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns every year, that warrants high-end compensation. Those are the kind of numbers we expect from guys like Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, and Saquon Barkley. Cook, too, is very much in that discussion.
So then, why did the Vikings cut him? Again, it would primarily seem to be financially motivated. The team has to think about an extension for Justin Jefferson in the very near future. However, the fact that Cook will turn 28 prior to this season likely played a part as well.
Teams are wary about paying backs on the precipice of their 30s. In fact, recently productive backs like Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette — all of whom are 28 or younger — are still awaiting their next NFL homes. Sure, there are outliers like Frank Gore, but it’s much more common to see veteran backs fall off or age out altogether.
Nonetheless, Cook’s given no indication that he’s lost a step. Consider this incredible scoring burst against Indianapolis last year as evidence of his ability to produce. Seems safe to say any contender willing to meet Cook’s price will be pleased with his production.
At least in the short term.