Ex-Vikings RB Dalvin Cook Seen as Fit for $21 Million Deal With AFC Contender

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Getty Running back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during a game against the Chicago Bears in January 2023.

After his release from the Minnesota Vikings, Dalvin Cook has banked on the idea of another team seeing the value he would bring to their offense — and he may just realize that in the AFC.

CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, a former agent, played running back “matchmaker” with a stable of Pro Bowl-caliber free agent backs and proposed the idea of Cook signing a two-year, $21 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.

“The connections here are well-documented, with Cook growing up in Miami and the Dolphins not-so-subtly eyeing a RB upgrade,” Benjamin wrote on June 20. “In the end, few teams have reason to outbid Cook’s hometown team, and while Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson make a serviceable pair for coach Mike McDaniel, Cook’s peak speed would make the Dolphins even more explosive.”

Miami has been the only team that publicly revealed interest in a trade for Cook back in March. However, with no deal in sight, the Dolphins re-signed their entire backfield but still have the cap space to support a deal slightly north of $10 million a season for Cook.

Minnesota, who would’ve had a $14.1 million cap hit, released Cook on June 10 instead of paying his full salary. In February, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported that Cook “was not inclined” to take a pay cut to stay with the Vikings. Now, he will look for a deal that would come close to his $10.4 million base salary for 2023, according to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson on June 11.

Dalvin Cook in No Rush to Sign to a New Team

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Cook is in no rush to sign to a new team and may wait until the running backs who have received a franchise tag finish their negotiations.

“He’s in a little bit of a wait-and-see mode right now,” Fowler said on the June 17 episode of “SportsCenter,” per Bleacher Report. “No official visits to teams that I’m aware of, and we talk about the franchise tag with [Saquon] Barkley, Cook can actually wait until July 17 [to sign], I’m told, because you’ve got three running backs on the franchise tag—Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs.”

The running back market is brimming with talent, with several former Pro Bowl backs still weighing their options. Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Cook are all free agents while Joe Mixon, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard and Josh Jacobs are embroiled in contract negotiations.

Kirk Cousins Leaves Door Open for Dalvin Cook’s Return to Vikings

While the Vikings couldn’t reach an agreement with keeping Cook on the roster with his current contract, a reunion may not be out of the question if he can’t find the money he wants in free agency.

Minnesota would likely be open to that. The organization spoke highly of Cook upon his release. Unprompted in a media conference, Kirk Cousins openly expressed that he’s still holding on to hope that Cook could come back.

“I’m excited to see where he goes, I’ll always be pulling for him, and I’m kind of optimistically hoping we get him back — who knows,” Cousins said on June 14. “Maybe there’s an outside chance. We’ll see.”