Patriots Face Conundrum in Dalvin Cook Pursuit

Dalvin Cook

Getty Dalvin Cook faces a potential suspension due to off-field conduct.

If the New England Patriots decide to sign free agent star running back Dalvin Cook to a big contract, availability will likely become a major issue.

Cook could face a suspension by the NFL due to abuse allegations by his former girlfriend, Gracelyn Trimble, which came to the surface in the national media this week. Cooks’ attorneys offered Trimble $1 million “to send a letter — not sworn testimony — to the NFL absolving Cook of wrongdoing” according to the Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson.

“The request for a letter to the NFL absolving Cook of wronging suggests that Cook is concerned about a punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote. “Throughout his free agency, there has been chatter in league circles regarding hesitation arising from the possibility of a suspension.”

How many games the NFL would suspend Cook for remains to be seen, but it impacts Cook’s value for 2023. Cook wants top running back money, which would push teams to pay him around $10 million  or more this season.

His former team, the Minnesota Vikings, cut him in June to save $9 million in salary cap space. The Patriots have ample cap space at $15.52 million after multiple signings on Friday, July 21, before training camp.

New England has been in the running for Cook since his release, but the money became more exclusively available this week. The Patriots lost out on prized free agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who chose the Tennessee Titans instead.

New England Desperately Needs Big Playmaker Like Dalvin Cook

After a subpar offensive performance last season, the Patriots need a boost to the offense. New England could use a big-play threat such as Cook, even with 1,000-yard rusher Rhamondre Stevenson already on the roster.

Cook has a season-long run of 66 yards or more in each of his past five seasons in the league. New England only had four plays go over 45 yards last year, and all of them were 53 yards or less.

Overall, Cook has four-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and 43 rushing touchdowns in that span. He averages 4.7 yards per carry for his career, which eclipses all of the Patriots running backs except for Stevenson’s 4.8 yards per attempt.

In addition, Cook could add to the passing game out of the backfield. He has 221 receptions for 1,794 yards and five touchdowns in his career.

If the Patriots pass on Cook, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets both look poised to sign him. However, the Patriots might not have to see Cook twice — or at all — this season if he signs with an AFC East rival and the NFL suspends him.

Dalvin Cook’s Legal Trouble Goes Back to 2021 and Will Go Beyond This Year

Cook’s legal issues with Trimble originated in 2021 when she filed a lawsuit against him, Olson wrote. Then, Cook countered with a defamation lawsuit, and “both cases are pending” according to Olson.

The trial is set for 2024, Olson reported, which means the Patriots — or any team that signs him — will have more legal drama beyond this season.

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