The Minnesota Vikings are about to prove that patience is a major virtue, even in the fast-paced world of negotiating with and for NFL superstars.
It is no secret that the Vikings have been mostly sellers all offseason long as the organization trims its budget sheet and prepares to go in a different direction on both sides of the football — hiring Brian Flores to run the defense and planning for a life after quarterback Kirk Cousins. Part of Minnesota’s mandate has been to clear the salary cap space necessary to meet all of its goals and an important part of that is reducing the whopping $14.1 million hit represented by running back Dalvin Cook in 2023.
The Vikings could have cut Cook at any point over the last several months and saved $5.9 million in a snap of their metaphorical fingers. Trading the running back is the better option, as the savings jump to $7.9 million and an asset comes back in return. But finding a trade parter for Cook on an expensive, long-term contract is a tough thing to do in the modern NFL. However, the Vikings may have accomplished exactly that by waiting until draft weekend to make a move, according to a report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
“Some people think [the] Miami [Dolphins] could get aggressive there if [Cook] becomes available because the Vikings have drafted another running back,” Graziano wrote on Wednesday, April 26.
The Dolphins were linked to a Cook trade earlier this offseason, though an inability to agree with Minnesota on the appropriate compensation led to a breakdown in talks.
Vikings Have Dalvin Cook’s Successor in Place With Alexander Mattison
Despite Cook’s four-year run as a Pro-Bowl selection, the Vikings have a solid succession plan in place at running back.
The team inked Cook’s long-time backup Alexander Mattison to a two-year contract worth $7 million over the offseason, a deal that made it clear Cook could be on the move. Mattison drew some trade interest around the league ahead of last year’s deadline and has performed well enough over the course of his career for the team to believe he can serve as a reasonable stand-in for Cook.
Mattison has averaged 4.1 yards per carry over his four-year NFL career, rushing the ball for a total of 1,670 yards and 11 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. He has also caught 70 passes for 526 yards and three scores.
Vikings Looking for Day 3 NFL Draft Pick in Return for Dalvin Cook
The Vikings have two backup options for Mattison already on the roster in Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler, though Graziano’s notion that the team will look for another in the later rounds has been a popular one this offseason.
Minnesota currently has just five picks in the upcoming draft, including a fifth-rounder (No. 158 overall) and a compensatory sixth-rounder (No. 211 overall). Those are the two most likely spots the Vikings will look for a backup running back considering it is a plug-and-play position where value can be found on day three. Also, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s background as an analytics staffer predisposes him to devalue the position, the same reason he’s willing to move Cook despite his sustained success.
Cook has substantial value to an organization like the Dolphins, which should be a playoff contender if quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can remain healthy in 2023. As such, a fifth-round or sixth-round pick shouldn’t be out of the question as trade compensation if Miami feels Cook completes what was already a high-octane offense last season.
In any case, Minnesota now appears all but destined to move on from the running back after Cook shunned the Vikings on Instagram Tuesday by posting a picture of himself with the team’s Norseman logo covered in the photo.