Vikings Trade Proposal Flips Dalvin Cook to AFC Powerhouse

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

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

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t rush to trade Dalvin Cook ahead of the NFL Draft, and the franchise is poised to reap the reward for its patience.

Deadlines on the league calendar dictate the salary cap implications of decisions to release or trade a player. The best financial scenario for the Vikings has always been to trade Cook after June 1, which saves the team $11 million. Waiting this long has already erased the possibility of Minnesota acquiring an asset that can help improve its roster in 2023. But with that incentive now gone, it makes most sense for the Vikings to shop Cook for the best price and execute a trade over the summer.

Minnesota still needs to find a partner willing to deal for a pricy running back at a time when few are making high-end money anywhere in the league. But suitors of a certain type do exist — playoff-ready rosters pushing to get over the Super Bowl hump.

The Buffalo Bills are one of the best examples of this kind of franchise after a couple of disappointingly short postseason runs the last two years. The Bills also have the distinct advantage of offering Cook a pairing with his younger brother, James Cook, in the Buffalo backfield.

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook Logical Fit With Buffalo Bills

Dalvin Cook

GettyMinnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook warms up before an NFL game in December 2022.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report on Sunday, May 7, suggested that a deal between the Vikings and Bills for Cook’s services could still go down given the persistent incentives on both sides.

A trade to the Bills would make sense. The Bills let Devin Singletary walk and look to feature Cook’s brother … in the backfield with free-agent acquisition Damien Harris. The former New England Patriots back is a fine pickup but doesn’t have nearly the star power or explosiveness of Dalvin Cook.

The Bills have to continue to find ways to take some of the burden off Josh Allen. Watching the older Cook join his brother to chase a Super Bowl ring in Buffalo would have been a fun subplot to the 2023 season. This is one that still has a shot at happening given the financial ramifications of doing the move after June 1.

Cook has three seasons remaining on a five-year, $63 million deal and will play in 2023 at the age of 28. He put up 1,173 yards rushing yards and eight touchdowns last season to go along with 39 catches for 295 yards and two scores, per Pro Football Reference. The performance earned the running back his fourth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. Cook is poised to cost the Vikings $14.1 million against the cap in 2023 if he remains on the roster.

Minnesota may be able to strike a better bargain for Cook post-draft, with more time to negotiate as NFL rosters develop. But whether it’s the Bills or some other organization, Cook’s going rate will probably fall in the range of a pick late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 of the 2024 draft.

Vikings Ready to Replace RB Dalvin Cook With Alexander Mattison

Alexander Mattison

GettyMinnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison celebrates a touchdown during a game against the New York Jets in December 2022.

There is always the chance the Vikings hold on to their running back, but circumstances over the past couple of months make that outcome read like a long shot. Cook has publicly voiced issues with the Vikings this offseason, as has his agent.

Meanwhile, Minnesota extended Cook’s backup Alexander Mattison on a two-year deal before selecting DeWayne McBride in the seventh round of this year’s draft. The Vikings drafted Ty Chandler in the fifth round in 2022, and he remains on the roster.

Adam Schefter of ESPN on Monday offered his assessment of Cook’s situation in Minnesota.

“I think it’s fair to say his future is in question,” Schefter said, per SKOR North.

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