Vikings Predicted to Trade 3-Time Pro Bowler, Sever Ties With Backup

Adofo-Mensah, O'Connell, Vikings

Getty General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (left) and head coach Kevin O'Connell (right) of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have a good deal of house cleaning to do this offseason, and it’s likely to start with one of the most accomplished players on the roster.

Judd Zulgad of USA Today’s Vikings Wire on Monday, January 30, predicted that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell will part ways with three-time Pro-Bowl running back Dalvin Cook, as well as his backup in free agent Alexander Mattison.

Adofo-Mensah is more of an analytics guy and that likely means his philosophy is that paying big bucks to backs is a bad idea. That’s why you have to figure the 27-year-old Cook and his 2023 cap number of $14.1 million won’t be around much longer.

Cook will cost the Vikings $6.1 million in dead cap money if he’s jettisoned, but he also will save them $7.9 million to the cap and that’s valuable. Could the Vikings’ attempt to trade Cook? Absolutely and they probably will, but it’s questionable what type of return they might get for an aging player who has had injury issues.

Alexander Mattison, who has been Cook’s backup since the Vikings drafted him in the third round in 2019, is a free agent and the Vikings also are unlikely to pay to keep him around.

Vikings Looking For Day 2 Draft Pick in Any Dalvin Cook Trade

Dalvin Cook

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after gaining a first down during a game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Even with the $16.6 million bump in the salary cap up to $224.8 million in 2023, which the NFL made public on Monday, the Vikings find themselves more than $23.4 million in the red, per Over the Cap — a primary catalyst for moving on from Cook and choosing not to re-sign Mattison, should the team ultimately make those decisions.

Anything Minnesota might get in return for Cook would be a win. Vikings insider Darren Wolfson of KSTP spoke with former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports on the Skor North podcast on January 24 about what kind of value the running back might command on the trade market. Corry suggested as high as a third-round draft pick for Cook, on offer at which Wolfson said Minnesota would jump immediately.

“I would be shocked if the Vikings could get a third for Dalvin Cook,” Wolfson said in response. “If they can get a third for Dalvin Cook, done deal. They will make that move. They will take the dead money cap hit but also get some cap relief.”

A fourth- or a fifth-round pick might also be in play for the Vikings if they attempt to move off of Cook this offseason, who is currently under contract with the team through 2025.

Dalvin Cook’s Pro-Bowl Past Won’t Save Him in Minnesota

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball for a touchdown during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on November 13, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images)

Cook’s situation epitomizes how things have so quickly changed at the running back position in the NFL.

He has played just six seasons in the league and is only two years into his second professional contract, yet Cook is already being talked about as if he is over the hill, or that such a time is soon approaching.

The running back earned trips to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons between 2019-21, appearing in 13 games once and 14 games twice throughout that stretch. Cook played in all 17 contests this season and has never appeared in fewer than 11 games in his career, save for his rookie year during which he played in just four.

Over the course of his time in Minnesota, Cook has racked up almost 6,000 rushing yards to go along with 47 rushing touchdowns and a career average of 4.7 yards per carry. He has also caught 221 passes for 1,794 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. He has fumbled the ball a total of 19 times over that span, a little more than three times per year on average.

Mattison has produced 1,670 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 404 carries over his four-year run with the Vikings, as well as 70 catches for 526 yards and three scores. Spotrac assigned the backup running back a market value of $2.2 million annually heading into 2023.

Ty Chandler, a fifth-round pick in 2022, will have a shot to take over RB1 duties in Minnesota if Cook and Mattison are both gone come next season, while Zulgad said there is a strong likelihood the Vikings will also bring in a veteran at value to share the rushing burden.

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