At this Point, a Dalvin Cook Cut Would Be … Well … Strange

Vikings: Week 16
Sep 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Dalvin Cook is still a Minnesota Viking. Will that continue? The consensus opinion steps forward with a resounding “no.”

Most recently, it was Adam Schefter who added his voice to the chorus (as Vikings Territory relays). The ESPN insider isn’t alone. Jeremy Fowler has suggested a divorce is possible and Darren Wolfson has also expressed his skepticism about Cook’s ongoing employment in Minnesota. Albert Breer notes that Minnesota is looking for trade partners.

More importantly, GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sounds pretty lukewarm about the idea of retaining #4. According to Adofo-Mensah, Cook could “in theory” be a “complementary” player in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

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Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Folks, that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement.

In the end, the team is trending toward moving on from the still talented RB. The team doesn’t have a ton of financial flexibility right now, so moving on from Cook’s large deal does have its upside. At this stage, though, seeing a Dalvin Cook cut would be quite surprising. Strange, even.

A Dalvin Cook Cut? Seriously?

If the team was really going to cut Dalvin Cook, wouldn’t they have done so by now?

A cut has always been a possibility and yet it hasn’t occurred. I suppose it’s possible there was some optimism that a trade during the NFL Draft would reward Minnesota’s patience, but the event has come and gone without any deal materializing.

CBS Sports Names the Vikings a "Value Pick" for Super Bowl 58
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Does the relatively subdued market for the oft-injured, well-paid RB mean Minnesota changes direction, opting for a cut since they miscalculated how much trade interest there’d be? Perhaps.

With each passing day, though, that option becomes less and less likely. If a cut really was a serious consideration, then why wait?

In all likelihood, the NFL Draft was going to be a tough sell for a lot of franchises. Why would they trade out draft capital during an event chock-full of RB talent? Instead of an older RB carrying a large contract, a team could pick DeWayne McBride 222nd overall. As good as Cook? No, probably not, but there’s something to be said for adding a 21-year-old whose cap hit will be below $1 million.

Nov 13, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride (22) runs the ball against the Marshall Thundering Herd during the fourth quarter at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Even a post-June 1 cut doesn’t make a ton of sense. Tossing $9 million onto the salary cap pile – the amount Minnesota gets through the post-June 1 option – certainly has a ton of appeal. However, that option was always present. Teams can cut a player on, say, March 15th and designate the move as being post-June 1. The trade off is that the team doesn’t get their coveted cap room until after the opening day of June and the player’s remaining dead money (if there is any) gets spread out to a future budget.

Kyle Rudolph was a post-June 1 cut a couple seasons ago, so a lot of Vikings fans will be at least vaguely familiar with the option.

The Vikings’ GM values value. He doesn’t want to just gain cap space; he also wants to get draft capital alongside that cap space. In other words, a trade is still the likeliest possibility for Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings.

Moving Cook in a pre-June 1 trade would clear nearly $7.9 million in cap space. The post-June 1 option would clear $11 million.

Editor’s Note: Information from Over the Cap helped with this piece.