Vikings Expected to Trade $63 Million Playmaker During NFL Draft

Kevin O'Connell

Courtesy of Vikings The Vikings "came very close" to trading running back Dalvin Cook to the Miami Dolphins in March, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported.

The Minnesota Vikings are a franchise in flux and the clock is ticking on one of the several monumental personnel decisions the team has yet to make.

Putting aside the likely additions of a quarterback to succeed Kirk Cousins, at least one more cornerback to round out the secondary and a wide receiver to complement the tandem of Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn, the Vikings must to decide how to proceed with a couple of current roster members who don’t appear destined to return to Minnesota.

One such player is running back Dalvin Cook who is a prime candidate for trade or release as the NFL Draft approaches, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. A trade is the superior option for two reasons. First, the Vikings will save more money against the salary cap ($7.9 million) by trading Cook than cutting him ($5.9 million). Second, a trade means Minnesota gets something back in return — probably a pick late on day two or sometime on day three of the draft.

Vikings’ Dalvin Cook May Prove Prime Trade Target For Contender

Dalvin Cook

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after gaining a first down during a game against the Detroit Lions in September 2022.

Cook’s value as a dual-threat, three-down back and a four-time Pro Bowler who has produced four consecutive seasons of more than 1,100 yards rushing affords him considerable value to the right team, even despite three years remaining on a hefty $63 million contract.

As such, Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report posited on Monday, April 24, that a contender on the brink of Super Bowl success could try and seize the opportunity to add the elite-level running back.

The Vikings already have a succession plan in place for Cook. Alexander Mattison, whom they re-signed to a two-year, $7 million deal in March, has rushed for 477 yards and scored five touchdowns in the six career games he has played without Cook, per StatMuse.

A team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who could be looking to replace Joe Mixon and remains a Super Bowl contender, might be interested in paying up for Cook. This year’s rookie running back class is strong, but Cook is still a top dual-threat talent at the position.

Vikings Unlikely to Keep Dalvin Cook at Current Salary

Dalvin Cook

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings warms up prior to a game against the Dallas Cowboys in October 2021.

Beyond Cook’s cost in 2023 and his potential value to the right organization as a trade chip, the Vikings are likely to deal the running back because both he and his contract are products of a bygone era in Minnesota.

The former regime drafted Cook and then paid him huge money on his second contract. Second-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah comes from an analytics background that renders him unlikely to value any running back as worth a $14.1 million salary cap hit, which is what Cook represents in 2023.

While Cook is clearly a superior player to Mattison, it is almost impossible for his on-field production to be worth twice as much in one season as Mattison’s will be over the course of two, which is what the price of their respective contracts demands should Minnesota choose to keep both rushers.

The Vikings must clear the room necessary to ink Jefferson to what most expect will be the largest wide receiver contract in NFL history. The franchise also needs to sign all of its upcoming draft picks and currently has less than $1.2 million in cap space.

Because of these factors a resolution to Cook’s tenure in Minnesota is coming fast, whatever it may be.

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