A Contract Compromise That Makes Sense for Dalvin Cook and the Miami Dolphins

After a few weeks on the market, we're getting a sense of what a fair Dalvin Cook contract would look like. Can the Miami Dolphins get it done?

We’ve been on record for weeks that Dalvin Cook to the Miami Dolphins doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons — namely, Cook’s contract demands and the Dolphins’ relative strength at the position.

But that room-temperature take could use a bit of updating. Cook, by now, must know that — barring a black swan event that totally changes his market — he won’t get the $10 million he was due in 2022 before with the Minnesota Vikings.

Which means his take-it number will presumably drop as we near the season — and when it does, the Dolphins should be ready to pounce.

A Miami Dolphins-Dalvin Cook Contract Compromise

The Dolphins are operating from a position of strength in any negotiation with Cook.

They’ve already built a running back room more than good enough to operate Mike McDaniel’s offense — re-signing Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed, and selecting Devon Achane in the third round of April’s NFL Draft.

But that’s only part of the Dolphins’ leverage. Cook, a Miami native, has made no secret that he wants to play for his hometown team. He reiterated that desire again Thursday on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

“As a running back, you look for a certain scheme, and I know the scheme that I’m good in, and that’s outside zone, and that’s what the Miami Dolphins run. So it’s like, you know, it’d be a perfect fit,” Cook said. “And the roster, like you said, speaks for itself.”

Cook continued: “You know, a lot of people got me pegged going back home. A lot of people got me going to the Jets. It’s all over the place right now, but what’s gonna be important for me is just going to that right situation and helping somebody turn the page. I want to go and be the piece that can just help somebody win and get over the hump, and whatever that situation comes with, if it comes with me taking less reps, but me being in the perfect situation to hold up that trophy, I don’t mind.

“I just wanna go somewhere I can just get the ball and just help somebody win, and turn the next page.”

Dalvin Cook Should Put Money Where His Mouth Is

If Cook is truly serious that winning is priority 1B (money will almost always be priority 1A), there’s a way for him to earn much of his lost salary and still give the Dolphins protection in case he (or the team) flops:

Give him a one-year contract with $5 million guaranteed — his true market value, according to two industry sources — but include incentives that would reward Cook if he plays a big role in a Dolphins championship run.

Miami should structure the contract so that he can make an additional $3 to $5 million if he meets certain productivity and team-success thresholds. The more yards and touchdowns he piles up, and the more games the Dolphins win, the more money Cook earns.

Would retroactively paying a running back $10 million hurt the Dolphins in 2024? Sure. But Stephen Ross would consider it money well-spent if he finally gets a Lombardi.

From Cook’s perspective, such a deal might be the best of a bunch of bad options. In today’s NFL, even the best running backs simply don’t have much leverage.

Just ask Melvin Gordon, a free agent running back who recently said the following on the Jim Rome Show:

“It’s so tough for running backs right now, man. You have a lot of running backs out there and we just don’t get no love. It’s literally the worst position to play in the NFL right now. It literally sucks.”

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