This time, it’s the Minnesota Vikings, Cook’s former team, with a deal on the table according to CBS Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason. Minnesota cut Cook on June 10, and the Patriots have been “intrigued” with Cook, per ESPN’s Jeff Darlington.
“Dalvin Cook has a $7 million a year contract from the Minnesota Vikings right now,” Esiason said during WFAN’s “Boomer and Gio” show on Monday, July 10. “I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but he hasn’t accepted it. I don’t think he really wants to go back there.”
Cook previously teased interest in the Patriots via social media amid his free agency. NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe reported that “multiple teams” have offered Cook so far, but the Patriots weren’t specifically mentioned.
AFC East Tug-of-War For Dalvin Cook Continues
While a Cook-Vikings reunion seems unlikely, the Patriots could easily get stuck facing Cook twice per season in the AFC East. Esiason brought up two of those major players in the Cook sweepstakes.
“I think that he really wants to play for the Miami Dolphins, and I believe that [agent] Drew Rosenhaus is trying to play the Dolphins off the [New York] Jets like they did with Tyreek Hill to a certain extent,” Esiason said. “Tyreek Hill was never coming to the Jets.”
Cook recently turned down a contract offer from the Dolphins, and the Jets haven’t quit pursuing Cook. Esiason said he believes the Jets “would love to have” Cook “But they’re not going to get into a bidding war with” either.
Esiason floated the number $5 million per year for Cook with the Jets but added that same amount would go further with Dolphins because of no state tax in Florida. With that said, Esiason believes the Dolphins want to pay less than $7 million for Cook.
That could push Cook north of $10 million as the top-ten running backs in the league make that much or more. Cook finished sixth in rushing last season.
Whether or not Cook could reach that level of pay remains doubtful. Spotrac projects him for $8.7 million annually. New England could play $7 million or $8.7 million for Cook this year amid $17.74 million in salary cap space.
Patriots Could Still Pull Off Signing Dalvin Cook and DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins, who could command $23.2 million this year per Spotrac, likely won’t find that money anywhere as NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry previously reported. The Patriots rank ninth in salary space, and the Chicago Bears own the most at $31.59 million.
Chicago doesn’t fit as much of Hopkins’ criteria as the Patriots do, based on Hopkins’ “I AM ATHLETE” podcast interview in May. Hopkins wants stable management and a proven winner.
Other potential contenders such as the Jets and Dallas Cowboys have more cap space than the Patriots, but both franchises have a combined 10 playoff wins since 2000. New England has nine Super Bowl appearances in that span during head coach and general manager Bill Belichick’s tenure.