Patriots Could Pursue $63 Million Star: Insider

Bill Belichick

Getty Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could add another big-time rusher.

Just because the New England Patriots return a 1,000-yard rusher does not mean Dalvin Cook is out of the question.

The Minnesota Vikings released Cook, a four-time Pro Bowl running back, on Friday, June 9. NESN’s Dakota Randall sees where the Patriots could make a move to Cook for “a late-offseason roster splash” despite running back Rhamondre Stevenson on the roster.

Randall noted a report from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, who indicated the Patriots’ interest in drafting a high-caliber running back. In addition, “the Detroit Lions reportedly selected Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall because they feared New England planned a similar move”, Randall wrote.

“So, all evidence points toward the Patriots wanting to add elite high-end talent to their backfield,” Randall continued. “And that might not be a bad idea, considering Stevenson will be a free agent in 21 months and he noticeably broke down late last season. Given New England’s lack of an elite passing game, making the running game one of the NFL’s best could be a decent alternative.”

New England landing Cook would also keep him away from AFC East division rivals Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Cook expressed interest in both teams, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated the Dolphins and Denver Broncos as possible destinations.

The Patriots face a stacked AFC East and need a big-time playmaker.

Dalvin Cook Still a Force But With a Risk

Cook can still make big plays amid his track record of 1,100 yards or more annually and 43 touchdowns in the past four years. He can make plays out of the backfield, too, amid 34 or more receptions or 224 or more yards annually for the last three seasons.

“For all the talk of regression, Cook finished last season with 1,173 rushing yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 39 catches for 295 yards,” Randall wrote. “He’s also just 27 years old [28 in August].”

“But the advanced analytics paint a far different picture, with Cook being one of the game’s worst backs in terms of the rushing-yards-over-expected metric,” Randall continued. “His injury history, along with the undeniable history of workhorse running backs aging poorly into their late-20s, can’t be ignored.”

Cook played a full season in 2022 for the first time in his six-year career. He missed most of the 2017 season due to an ACL tear followed by hamstring injuries in 2018 as he missed five games.

Shoulder and ankle injuries amounted to more missed games between 2019 and 2021. He never played more than 14 games in a season during that span.

Patriots Could Afford Dalvin Cook

How much Cook would cost the Patriots remains the biggest question. The Vikings cut Cook because of his previous five-year, $63 million deal with the team.

“Nevertheless, Cook now should be available at a discounted rate, which could be music to Bill Belichick’s ears,” Randall wrote. “We wouldn’t put money on Cook landing in New England, but it also wouldn’t be a shocking outcome.”

Belichick went after a regular 1,000-yard rusher before when he picked up Corey Dillon from the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004. That paid off as Dillion rushed for 3,180 yards in three seasons and helped the Patriots win one Super Bowl.

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