Vikings Trade Pitch Flips Dalvin Cook to AFC East For Draft Package

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Getty Running back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during a game against the Chicago Bears in January 2023.

Just one week remains until the start of the NFL Draft and now is the time for the Minnesota Vikings to turn up the heat on a Dalvin Cook trade.

The Miami Dolphins inquired about a deal for Cook earlier in the offseason, per a March 30 report from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, though the two sides were unable to agree on the draft compensation Minnesota should receive in return for the four-time Pro Bowler. Jackson followed up on Tuesday reporting that the Dolphins will look into signing Cook should the Vikings release the running back ahead of next week’s NFL Draft in order to clear much-needed salary cap space.

Jackson never reported how far apart the Vikings and Dolphins were on compensation, but Miami does hold leverage in a prospective deal. Cutting Cook before June 1 saves the Vikings $5.9 million, per Over The Cap. Trading him before that date saves $7.9 million and brings at least one asset back in return.

With all that in mind, the best option for the Vikings is clear — go back to the negotiating table with the Dolphins and get what they can before the draft kicks off on April 27.

Vikings Can Get 2 Low Draft Picks in Return For Dalvin Cook

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown during a game against the Buffalo Bills in November 2022.

Cook’s value has been projected in the range of a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick, though that price may not adequately take into account the money the running back is still owed.

Cook will enter the third season of a five-year, $63 million contract with Minnesota in 2023 carrying a salary cap hit of $14.1 million. Cook’s cost at a devalued position is why the Vikings want to trade him despite his continued on-field excellence, and it’s the same reason they have failed to get a high draft choice in return.

The Dolphins have been selling assets for years in order to build a Super Bowl-caliber roster and own just four picks in this year’s draft, including a second-rounder (No. 51), a third-rounder (No. 84), a sixth-rounder (No. 197) and a seventh-rounder (No. 238).

Presumably the Vikings want something back in this draft for Cook and the second- and third-round picks are almost certainly non-starters for Miami.

Cook turns 28 years old in August has rushed for more than 1,100 yards in each of the last four seasons while scoring 47 rushing touchdowns over the course of his six-year NFL career. He has also caught 221 passes for 1,794 yards and five scores, per Pro Football Reference. Presumably that kind of production merits more than a sole sixth- or seventh-round pick in the eyes of the Vikings.

The best solution is a compromise that includes a couple of late-round selections over the next two drafts. Miami owns its sixth- and seventh-round picks in 2024, and packaging the No. 197 overall selection this year with a sixth-round choice in 2024 should be enough to pique the Vikings’ interest.

Vikings Looking to Move on From Dalvin Cook to Alexander Mattison

Alexander Mattison

GettyRunning back Alexander Mattison of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a touchdown during a game against the New York Jets in December 2022.

Minnesota’s brass hasn’t publicly admitted it, but signing Cook’s backup Alexander Mattison to a two-year contract after talks about Cook accepting a pay cut fell through sent a clear signal — the franchise is ready to move on from its long-time starter at running back.

If the Vikings are ready to transition Mattison into a starting role, the team will need to bring in a backup for its former backup. The Dolphins’ sixth-round pick in the aforementioned trade proposal is exactly the kind of asset Minnesota can use to take a low-cost flier on a rookie running back with upside and help improve its roster this year, while still adding another draft choice to their war chest come 2024.

The return admittedly isn’t great for a player of Cook’s caliber, but the draft is closing in and if Minnesota hopes to get any value in return for Cook that can help the team this year, the Vikings front office must move now or miss out on the opportunity entirely.

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