The Minnesota Vikings are holding onto Dalvin Cook until they can find a suitable trade partner for the four-time Pro Bowl running back — and apparently, they had come “very close” to dealing Cook back in March.
The fizzled-out trade talks reveal a divide on how the two teams, both under second-year head coaches, are building their offenses.
Dolphins, Vikings Divided on How to Use Dalvin Cook
In Breer’s The Monday Morning Quarterback column, he detailed the difference in how the Vikings view Cook versus the Dolphins’ point of view.
“What’s interesting about the deal that fell apart then is how the vision the team trading for him dovetails with how the team trading him away sees him,” Breer added. “The idea, for Miami, was to add another big-play threat to an arsenal that already has two of the game’s most explosive receivers, in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, in the holster. And after that one came undone, and as Minnesota contemplated a price it’d be comfortable bringing Cook back at (which would be less than the $11 million he’s due), the Vikings discussed using him more sparingly, as an explosive complement to Alexander Mattison.”
Playing every game last season for the first time in his career, Cook showed he still can create explosive plays as one of his position’s most prominent playmakers. He broke off two of the longest runs of his career a 53-yard score in Week 6 against the Dolphins and an 81-yard touchdown in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills.
However, last season, he also led the NFL with 62 carries that either lost or did not gain a yard, per ESPN. Those runs limited the play-calling possibilities for Kevin O’Connell, who often faced second- and third-and-long. The Vikings have opted to make Mattison their three-down back in hopes Mattison can create more favorable situations on later downs.
Mattison is a significant downgrade in explosive potential. The longest touchdown of his career went for 14 yards, compared to Cook’s eight career touchdowns of 20 or more yards.
It remains to be seen if Cook is willing to split more carries in the Vikings backfield and take a pay cut after being the franchise’s feature back for the past six years, which will be the ongoing development this summer if Minnesota cannot find a trade suitor soon.
Vikings, Dolphins at a Standoff in Trade Talks
If the Vikings had planned to cut Cook, they would have already used those cap savings to fortify the roster during the prime free-agency period.
Instead, Minnesota has held steady, waiting for a team to make the right offer for Cook. But since the talks with Miami did not bear any finalized trade, it’s been quiet on the Cook front.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that other teams believe the Vikings are “holding out” on Cook to create a bidding war for his services. A few ideal trade partners include the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Dolphins.
“Teams I talked to believe [the Vikings are] open to a trade and maybe holding out for that. So, they held onto [Cook’s] $14 million cap hit for a while now and can do so a little bit longer in the short-term,” Fowler said, per Bleacher Report. “But they can save $11 million on their salary cap if they trade him now that we’re past June 1. And so, should be some interest there if they can shake it out.”
But this late in the offseason, many team rosters are nearly finalized and up against the cap. Miami may have already remedied its need for more explosives by drafting Texas A&M running back Devon Achane in the third round.
“For those asking if Dalvin Cook to the Dolphins is a done deal, I have been led to believe it’s not a done deal,” Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson wrote on June 2. “Could Cook end up here? Absolutely. It’s certainly a real possibility if he’s cut by Minnesota. There would be interest on both sides. But from my understanding, there’s not some secret agreement between the parties.”