Cook, who is subject to a personal injury lawsuit filed by his ex-girlfriend, Gracelyn Trimble, in November 2021, offered her $1 million to clear him of wrongdoing by writing the NFL a letter absolving him of all accusations, according to a legal document obtained by the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson added that the filing was sealed by a Dakota County court judge hours after it was obtained on July 21.
Settlement offers are not allowed to be used as evidence in civil trials. However, the Star Tribune report does potentially hurt his status as a free agent with some discussion of “hesitation” in league circles, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said.
“The request for a letter to the NFL absolving Cook of wronging suggests that Cook is concerned about a punishment under the [NFL] Personal Conduct Policy,” Florio wrote. “Throughout his free agency, there has been chatter in league circles regarding hesitation arising from the possibility of a suspension.”
Cook’s settlement offer was broached in May, a month ahead of his release from the Vikings, suggesting he wanted the situation to be resolved before his free agency.
“It’s too late to unring the bell, however,” Florio wrote. “The story has made its way to the media, and teams that already were skittish about the issue won’t be any less skittish about it now.”
In response to her suit, Cook’s legal team filed a defamation lawsuit against Trimble in 2021. Thursday’s newsbreak of the settlement could become more evidence in that case, according to Florio.
“Cook’s lawyers will (or at least should) investigate how the document was unsealed before it was sealed, and how it ended up in the hands of the Star-Tribune. Cook’s lawsuit against Trimble and her lawyers arises from efforts to leverage him to settle by weaponizing the allegations in the media,” Florio added. “Cook’s lawyers quite possibly will now contend that the settlement offer has been improperly used to smear Cook as well.
The personal injury lawsuit against Cook is set to go to trial next year with a hearing on the recent filing scheduled for Monday, July 24, according to the Star Tribune.
Dalvin Cook Voices Denial of Wrongdoing in 2021
When Trimble’s suit was filed against Cook in November 2021, the former Vikings running back addressed the matter before a Week 10 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I know there’s a lot of questions about the reports and the things that came out,” Cook said during his November 10, 2021 press conference. “I just want everybody to know I am the victim in this situation and the truth and the details about the situation will come out at a further time.
“You know me. I’m a pretty private person. Just seeing my business on the social web is not ideal for me. I try to walk that straight line, but bumps and bruises come through life and it’s how you handle it,” Cook added.
Cook was considered a first-round prospect but slipped to the Vikings in the second round due to at least one past incident while attending Florida State from 2014 to 2016. According to the Star Tribune, Cook was charged with misdemeanor battery in 2015 after he was accused of “punching a woman outside a bar” before a jury acquitted him in August that year.
Cook has been a model NFL player in the public eye. He was a Vikings team captain and helped organize many community efforts in Minnesota, including Vikings Table, a food truck and initiative that helps combat food insecurity.
“I’ve been through a lot of tough things in my life and I have my head up, high knowing the truth will come out,” Cook said. “I hate being a distraction to the team, but I know those guys have my back 1000%, and we’re just going to take this thing day by day. I know my team is here for me, and I’m here for them.”
NFL Executive Predicts Dalvin Cook Could Have Hard Time Getting ‘Big Commitment’
Cook is arguably the most talented free agent available at any position in the NFL.
However, the recent trending decline in running back contracts has hindered many backs around the league from getting lucrative contracts — which Cook is not immune to despite making his fourth Pro Bowl last season.
“I think it’s just really hard to commit heavy, long-term dollars to that position,” an NFC personnel executive told Heavy’s Matt Lombardo. “I think Cook will have some trouble getting a big commitment.”
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported on July 8 that Cook does have an offer on the table from the Miami Dolphins — one which he was not willing to accept.