The Minnesota Vikings want to “do right” by star running back Dalvin Cook but are struggling to find a trade partner for him, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
“Dalvin Cook’s future has been sort of open-ended recently,” Fowler said during a May 14 “SportsCenter” appearance. “I was told from a source that the Vikings want to do right by Dalvin Cook. Right now, they’re willing to hold onto his cap hit of around $14 million until they figure this all out.”
After months of inaction on Cook, Minnesota can afford to wait. If the Vikings intend to move on from Cook, they can wait until June 1 and push his remaining guaranteed money across the next two seasons to save at least $9 million against the cap in 2023.
The Vikings have been “open to bringing him back on a reduced number,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported on May 15.
Or they could release him or continue to try to deal him. The Vikings are willing to listen to trade offers, Fowler said, but there aren’t many ideal destinations for the team to pursue for Cook. Trade talks with the Miami Dolphins fizzled out in March, Fowler said, after the Dolphins re-signed their four running backs to the tune of $12.3 million and drafted De’Von Achane in the third round.
“There’s not a clear-cut avenue for him to be traded,” he said. “And so … they could be willing to move on from Dalvin Cook at some point, but it hasn’t shaken out yet,”
Vikings’ Deadline for Dalvin Cook Approaching
Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has been non-committal to Cook this offseason after the team approached him to take a pay cut for the 2023 season.
KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported in February that Cook balked at the organization’s plea for him to take a pay cut. Cook, who turns 28 in August, has three years left on a five-year, $63 million extension he signed in 2020. He is slated to make about $14 million this season.
As the new regime has begun to leave its imprint on the team, investing heavily in running back isn’t currently in the Vikings’ plans. Minnesota hedged its future elsewhere, signing Alexander Mattison to a two-year, $7 million contract that is nearly fully guaranteed. Committing that kind of cash to a player indicates they plan to use Mattison and are prepared to move on from Cook.
However, not working out a resolution to keep Za’Darius Smith, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns on May 14, in Minnesota did free up cap space that could soften the push for Cook to take a pay cut.
Many teams are waiting to see if the Vikings will cut Cook on June 1 for the chance to land the four-time Pro Bowler without having to give up draft capital.
However, if Cook remains rostered with his contract intact after the turn of the calendar, he’s likely to show up for mandatory minicamp on June 12.
Vikings Still Need to Work Out Extensions for Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter & T.J. Hockenson
While the cap savings that came with trading Smith was a step in the right direction, Minnesota has a lot of work if it’s going to handle all of its business this offseason.
Justin Jefferson‘s contract extension is the most noteworthy, however, the Vikings have through next season to strike a deal after exercising his fifth-year option. T.J. Hockenson is entering the final year of his deal and should garner a top-five salary at his position in the ballpark of $12 to $17 million annually.
But the most pressing matter is working out a new deal for Danielle Hunter, who has not shown up to voluntary OTAs yet this season.