The Athetlic’s Arif Hasan said that given Cook’s risk of injury, he’d “offer less than half of what elite backs are making,” adding he wouldn’t offer Cook more than $6 million a year.
“I’m not particularly keen on valuing Cook like an elite running back because of his health concerns and the additional value other backs like Elliot (as a pass protector) and Christian McCaffrey (as a pass catcher) provide outside of their running capability,” Hasan wrote in his Vikings Mailbag segment on Tuesday.
Hasan’s evaluation follows a trend in the NFL that devalues running backs, stating he thinks “the ‘true value’ of an elite running back” is roughly $8 million a year — half of what the Carolina Panthers gave McCaffrey, the highest-paid running back in the league currently.
His evaluation of the position isn’t unfounded either, noting a trend of underperformance and absence from the field:
“I know that generally seems wildly out of line with what happens to running back value in the open market, but consider every running back who signed a deal with an average value worth more than four percent of that year’s cap (about $7.9 million in 2020) going back to 2016…
There has been one first-team All-Pro and three Pro Bowl appearances from the 17 years of running back play generated by those contracts, where they’ve averaged 55.8 rushing yards per game and 76.3 yards from scrimmage per game, earning 3.88 yards per carry.
That’s not even the most dire part of it, however — many of these running backs missed time due to underperformance or injury. Using the amount of functionally guaranteed years these backs had in their contracts, we can see how many games teams expected these players to play, which adds up to 352 to date (with some players, like Elliott, having more still left to play). They played 222 of those games, or 10 games of a 16-game season.”
Given the report of Cook feeling “disrespected” by the Vikings’ first offer, which ESPN reported was well-under $10 million, it’s safe to say Cook would likely not agree to Hasan’s offer.
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Dalvin Cook’s Best Play in Offseason Holdout
Cook’s development as the centerpiece of the Vikings offense could be his best bargaining chip in his holdout.
Minnesota “used designed run plays on 47.4 percent of its offensive snaps, the second-highest figure in the NFL,” per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. Cook took 38.1 percent of the Vikings’ touches from scrimmage as well.
While offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has had success with running backs lesser than Cook, the offensive line isn’t at a level of having no drop off at the position if the Vikings were to go to a committee. After the departure of Diggs, there are fewer playmaking options available for the offense that may need to score more often this season.
With many players on high-level contracts, the Vikings are built to compete now and not reaching an agreement with Cook could derail the team’s plans.
A $6 million salary won’t get the deal done in Minnesota while his peers chase eight-figure salaries.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire