Dalvin Cook to Be Released By the Vikings

After months of speculation as to whether or not Dalvin Cook would leave Minnesota in 2023 or remain on the team, we finally have the answer. According to a report from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Cook will be released by the team on Friday. This means that, unless a last-minute trade happens, Cook will be free to sign with any team at 4 P.M. EST on Friday afternoon.

Head Coach Rule
Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

This result is the most anti-climactic way for the Cook saga to end, but in reality, the Vikings probably were not being offered much in terms of draft capital for the 28-year-old running back. This theory is backed up by the fact that both Ezekiel Elliott and Austin Ekeler did not get traded this offseason, either. Elliott was released by the Dallas Cowboys, and Ekeler re-worked his contract in order to stay with the Los Angeles Chargers for one more year.

Minnesota’s decision to release Cook comes earlier than expected, considering they could have waited through training camp to see if any trade offers would come in this summer. However, the main motivator behind this move has to be cap space. Minnesota saves $9 million against the salary cap in 2023, and per Over the Cap, this boosts Minnesota’s cap space up to a healthy $18.7 million.

The Vikings Could Be Shaking Things Up in Their RB Room
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs on the field during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

However, it isn’t just 2023 where the Vikings will reap the benefit of extra cap space. In 2024, this move allows them to save $12.5 million while in 2025 they save $14.5 million. These are some major cap numbers for a team that already has boatloads of money ready to go in the coming years.

It remains to be seen what the Vikings will plan on doing with that remaining cap space for 2023, though. They have a few options: 1) target a top remaining free agent (DeAndre Hopkins & Marcus Peters come to mind), 2) save it in case injuries pop up or a disgruntled star requests a trade, and/or 3) roll it over to add even more money to 2024.

Regardless, the Vikings are officially saying goodbye to the running back that has stabilized Minnesota’s backfield basically since the end of the Adrian Peterson era. Cook is a four-time Pro Bowler and – despite some injury troubles along the way – he has been a star over the course of his six-year career with the franchise.

Dalvin Cook
Sep 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) pumps up the fans in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Cook leaves the team having recorded 1282 carries, 5593 rushing yards, and 47 touchdowns over the course of 73 games in a Vikings uniform. Among the Vikings all-time ranks, he places fifth in carries, third in rushing yards, and fourth in rushing touchdowns. He trails only Peterson and Robert Smith in rushing yards while just Peterson, Chuck Foreman, and Bill Brown have recorded more rushing touchdowns in Vikings franchise history.

Now, with Cook gone, the Vikings continue to look towards their youth to pick up the workload. Alexander Mattison was re-signed in March, and the assumption was that he would be the starter if Cook were to leave the team. He now officially gets that opportunity, and this opens the door for one of Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu, or DeWayne McBride to take over the job of RB2.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.