The Vikings-Dalvin Cook saga has reached its end. Cook has been re-signed.
The 25-year-old Pro Bowl running back agreed to a five-year deal worth $62.5 million with $28 million guaranteed on Saturday, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.
His $12.5 million annual salary now ranks sixth in the NFL after Saints running back Alvin Kamara also finalized a new contract on Saturday as well. Kamara inked a five-year $75 million deal.
The Chef is here to stay! pic.twitter.com/PzdUq7t3Et
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 12, 2020
Contract negotiations had been held since late May and fizzled out several times, but on the eve of the Vikings’ season opener against the Packers, the two sides have resolved the contract dispute.
The Vikings offense, built around Cook, will now have an engaged Cook who rushed for 1,135 yards and caught 53 passes for 419 yards, totaling the seventh-most yards from scrimmage in the NFL despite missing two games.
The Vikings restructured middle linebacker Eric Kendricks’ contract to reach a deal with Cook, per the Star Tribune’s Ben Goesling. Kendricks is coming off his first All-Pro season in 2019.
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Dalvin Cook’s Price
In April, Cook told Tomasson he sees himself as the best running back in the NFL, leading to the assumption Cook was chasing a Christian McCaffrey-level salary of $16 million a year.
Reports leaked that he felt disrespected by the Vikings’ initial offer, which was believed to be in the range of $9 million. NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry reset the market with his contract in July that averaged out to $12.5 million, likely becoming the ceiling for what Cook could earn.
His camp said he would be more than happy with a $13 million a year contract as the final deal fell into his price range.
Critics have argued throughout the season that paying running backs become a detriment at a position that has become replaceable and where stars are short-lived the NFL. The Vikings, however, are one of the few teams left in the NFL that have made it clear they plan to run the football, protecting their investments by building a team around a premiere running back like Cook.
Many NFL teams did not heed many of the warnings as many of the top running backs that would have reached 2021 free agency signed lucrative deals before the 2020 season in Joe Mixon, Henry, Kamara and Cook.
Vikings Now Have Flexibility
By paying Cook, the Vikings now will not have to choose next offseason whether to franchise tag Cook or newly acquired defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue turned down a franchise tender with the Jaguars and took a $6 million pay cut with the Vikings.
Safety Anthony Harris is also set to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason as the Vikings may have to choose between which defender they will keep or restructure more contracts in the future.
This offseason, the Vikings had three major contracts to renew for Cook, coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman. Checking the third and final box, the team can move forward with the 2020 season.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.