Vikings’ $63 Million Star Has ‘Change of Heart’ Amid Contract Dispute, Insider Says

Kevin O'Connell

Courtesy of Vikings The Vikings "came very close" to trading running back Dalvin Cook to the Miami Dolphins in March, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has remained resolute in his decision to not take a pay cut to stay with the team over the past five months.

But the star running back may be inching towards a “change of heart.”

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported on May 26 that he spoke with “somebody in the know… somebody I trust enough” who suggested checking in on the possibility that Cook is having a “change of heart” on taking a pay cut to stay with the Vikings.

Wolfson said he spoke to “somebody in the know … somebody I trust enough” who suggested checking on the possibility that Cook is “having a change of heart” on taking a pay cut to stay with the Vikings.

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A possible reversal on Cook’s future in Minnesota comes in the wake of the running back market closing with many of the league’s top running backs unsustained on their pre-existing contracts.

Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott was released in March and has yet to find a new team. Los Angeles Chargers scatback Austin Ekeler accepted a revised contract to stay with his team, a move Wolfson sees as a possibility for Cook. Joe Mixon is also feeling the pressure to take a pay cut with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“The possibility exists that Dalvin will rework his deal, take some sort of cut, realize that there really isn’t another opportunity out there Miami drafted a running back relatively high,” Wolfson said on SKOR North’s Mackey and Judd podcast.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Vikings want to “do right” by Cook. They’ve shown they’re not trying to throw him aside to just any team for a pedestrian return. They’re looking for a situation that would be ideal for Cook — but few remain for the four-time Pro Bowler after trade talks with the Miami Dolphins fizzled out.

“Like, who really truly needs a running back? Maybe Chicago? You can make a case for a few teams, right, and Dalvin, I think, would help a lot of teams. But can he make more money taking a cut [in Minnesota], à la Harrison Smith, versus testing the market. So just the idea that maybe, just maybe, Dalvin is here in 2023. So that’s a pretty intriguing possibility,” Wolfson added.

Vikings Decision on Dalvin Cook Should Come After June 1

The Vikings have played the long game on their decision with Cook after failing to find a trade to help their position during the peak of free agency and the before the draft.

The only meaningful impact for the 2023 season comes in shedding Cook’s contract to create cap space to reach extensions with either Danielle Hunter, T.J. Hockenson or Justin Jefferson.

A post-June 1 trade or release of Cook yields $9 million in cap savings versus approximately $6 million before June 1 — that’s why the team hasn’t declared a decision just yet.

Minnesota may have well made up its mind on its plan with Cook, but allowing the situation to play out after June 1 allows any 11th-hour trade partners to make one last call.

More importantly, it’s giving Cook’s camp time to assess his potential in free agency and see if forcing his release would be more lucrative than taking a pay cut to stay with the team.

All should be revealed June 1 or shortly after.

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