AFC Rivals Eyeing Tug-of-War for Ex-Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, Insider Says

Dalvin Cook

Getty Dalvin Cook #4 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As NFL training camp approaches at the end of the month, former Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook plans to sign with a new team.

But until then, the four-time Pro Bowler will be currying favor in the free-agent market, particularly between three AFC East foes.

A Pro Football Talk report surfaced this week that the New York Jets and New England Patriots are interested in Cook. Just hours later, Cook’s agent posted a photo to his Instagram story that he is in Miami, signaling he may be meeting with the Miami Dolphins, who have been the most prominent team in the Cook sweepstakes this offseason.

Cook’s agent recently negotiated second-round rookie Cam Smith‘s contract and may only be in Miami for Smith’s contract.

However, both the Jets and Patriots publicly escalated their interest in Cook as his destination could tip the scales in the AFC East.

Jets, Patriots Escalate Interest in Dalvin Cook

On July 6, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that the Jets are “gaining momentum” on the Cook front. First-round pick Breece Hall proved he is one of the rising talents at running back but suffered a hamstring injury last season that may not reach full recovery in time for the start of the season.

New York is in win-now mode after trading for Aaron Rodgers, who has two years remaining on his contract. Pairing Rodgers and Cook would round out the offense to complement the Jets defense, making New York a contender in the AFC.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Patriots are “intrigued” by Cook, followed by a statement by owner Robert Kraft that spending money on the team will never be an issue.

The Buffalo Bills are still frontrunners to win the AFC East, however with a wild-card spot on the line, the Jets, Dolphins and Patriots are all viable contenders and could not only improve their odds but lessen their competition’s chances by keeping Cook away from their AFC East counterparts.

Alexander Mattison Ready to Seize Starting Spot Left Void by Dalvin Cook

The Vikings moving on from Cook was evident after they signed his backup Alexander Mattison to a two-year, $7 million contract that is almost fully guaranteed.

An analytics-driven general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would not devote that much cap space to a backup. The plan was to have Mattison succeed Cook after it became clear that Cook would not agree to a pay cut this offseason.

In six career starts, Mattison has posted 115.8 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. He filled in admirably when Cook was out, surpassing 100 rushing yards three times in his career and posting over 90 rushing yards in four of his six starts.

“For me, it’s a great opportunity to step into the role, the limelight and the position I’ve always dreamt of being in,” Mattison said on the “Daily Delivery Podcast for The Star Tribune. “All the work I’ve put into this point, all the work following in [Cook’s] footsteps, side by side, challenging each other every day, prepared me for a moment like this where I can have the opportunity to seize what’s in front of me.”

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