Vikings Abruptly Reverse Course on RB Dalvin Cook’s Future

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Getty Running back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings warms up prior to the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants in January 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings and running back Dalvin Cook have been through the wringer this offseason and the twists just keep on coming.

The saga began when Cook was unwilling to negotiate a contract restructure that would have resulted in a pay decrease. Not long after, both the running back and his agent were publicly critical of the Vikings organization. Several weeks of trade rumors followed, which included serious talks with the Miami Dolphins that never materialized into a deal. Suggestions that Minnesota would cut Cook as a salary cap play followed the team’s decision to re-sign Alexander Mattison to a two-year contract. Now, after months of back and forth, the Vikings and Cook are back to where they started.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported on Monday, May 15, that the team remains open to retaining the running back if he will consider a pay cut.

“Cook won’t play for Minnesota at his current number ($11 million) this year,” Breer wrote. “The Vikings have come close to trading him, going deep into talks with Miami a couple of months back. But all along, the communication has been good, and the team has been open to bringing him back on a reduced number.”

Vikings Open to Retaining Dalvin Cook on Reworked Contract

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings watches the action during a game against the Green Bay Packers in January 2023.

Breer’s report butts up in some ways against one ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler offered via a SportsCenter appearance on Sunday when he said Minnesota may be willing to hold on to Cook’s salary cap hit for the foreseeable future. The running back’s cap hit in 2023 is approximately $3 million more than his actual salary.

“I was told from a source that the Vikings want to do right by Dalvin Cook. Right now, they’re willing to hold on to his cap hit of around $14 million until they figure this all out,” Fowler said, per Bleacher Report.

“They want him to go to a place where he can play and be happy, whether that’s via trade, or eventual release, or even staying in Minnesota,” Fowler continued. “But that’s the sort of the thing they’ve been sorting through.”

Trading Dalvin Cook After June 1 Most Lucrative Option For Vikings

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings runs back to the huddle following a play during an NFL game.

Despite the Vikings’ reportedly good intentions and renewed interest in retaining the four-time Pro Bowler, cap realities still render cutting Cook among the likeliest of outcomes.

David Kenyon of Bleacher Report on Monday listed Cook as Minnesota’s “best player who could still be cut” as the NFL calendar creeps toward the start of summer activities.

“One of the offseason’s biggest open secrets is the Vikings are working to make a decision on Dalvin Cook’s future,” Kenyon wrote. “Will he stay? Will they trade him? If no suitor is found, would Cook take a pay cut or be released? If he’s cut after June 1, the move saves $9 million against the cap.”

If the Vikings can’t work out a a deal with Cook to remain in purple and gold, then trading him post-June 1 is still the most lucrative option for the franchise. A trade after that date saves the team $11 million and brings back at least one asset in return.

Minnesota currently has just shy of $1.1 million in cap space and could desperately use the money that cutting or trading Cook would free up to improve other areas of need on an incomplete roster.

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