WCCO’s Anthony Bettin sees it as a possibility amid the Vikings’ release of the four-time Pro Bowl running back this week. Cook, a Florida native, could help turn around the Bucs rushing attack if the two could agree to a deal despite a previous $63 million deal with the Vikings.
“Cook is a cap casualty for the Vikings — he’s still a player who will help a team win games. If, indeed, the Bucs are looking to do that, he’s a great option for their backfield,” Bettin wrote.
Bettin noted the Bucs are “going to need a strong run attack to win some games” with Baker Mayfield, or possibly Kyle Trask, at quarterback. While Bettin mentioned the Bucs “have a dearth of talent at running back”, no one on the Bucs roster has run the ball like Cook has.
For the past four years, Cook has rushed for over 1,100 yards each season and for 4.4 yards or better per carry in that span. He also scored 43 touchdowns over that period.
Second-year running back Rachaad White impressed as a rookie, but he played in a league-worst rushing attack in all major categories. White rushed for 481 yards and a touchdown amid a 3.7 yards per carry average.
While White and Edmonds have shown they can produce in the passing game, Cook has a proven track record in that area, too. Cook has caught 34 or more passes and 224 or more yards each of the past three seasons.
His career high of 53 catches for 519 yards came in 2019. That eclipses both of White’s and Edmonds’ best seasons in the passing game.
Dalvin Cook Could Smash False Bucs Narrative
Cook could make the Bucs offense dangerous, but Bettin questioned if the Bucs really “want to win games” in 2023. That’s reflective of the national narrative of the post-Tom Brady Bucs.
“With Tom Brady retired —— the team seems primed for a tank-and-rebuild cycle,” Bettin wrote. “The wrinkle is they play in one of the worst divisions in football.”
“The Panthers, Falcons and Saints are all in various stages of their own rebuild cycles,” Bettin added. “The NFC South is seriously up for grabs this year, and while the Bucs aren’t the favorite to take the crown, it would be no more surprising than any of the other teams earning the banner.”
Locally, it’s clear that the Bucs don’t plan to tank in 2023 for a prime draft pick. Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds pointed out the Bucs signings this offseason as evidence of that, and Cook could add to that in a major way.
Bucs Actually Get a Second Shot at Dalvin Cook
Not only could the Bucs remain atop the NFC South with Cook, the franchise could bring a player the fan base once clamored for. Both fans and former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston wanted Cook in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the Bucs took tight end O.J. Howard instead for the first round.
Cook slid to the second round where he landed with the Vikings, nine picks before the Bucs could select again. The former Florida State Seminoles star slid that far because of his past off-field struggles, and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Bucs had concerns about Tampa being too close to home at the time.
While Cook will have a massive asking price, the Bucs could use voidable years or give him a similar contract to cornerback Jamel Dean. The Bucs corner will make $1.08 million in 2023 and then over $10 million during the next three seasons for his $52 million deal.