Decluttering & Clarifying The Recent Dalvin Cook Trade Hubbub

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.

Can we expect a Dalvin Cook trade? Depends on who you ask.

Over at Vikings Territory, Dustin Baker relays some words from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN: “I’m told all options are on the table here and that he could be released closer to the draft if things don’t work out.”

More recently, we’ve heard from KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, who notes on Twitter that “[Cook’s] not in Eagan” before explaining that he doesn’t “expect him to be a Viking this season.”

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.

Finally, consider the words from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Per Breer, Minnesota would consider shipping the talented RB out of town on Day 3 of the NFL Draft on one condition: “Minnesota hasn’t shopped Cook, but if it comes away with a back in the first three rounds, I’d bet the Vikings will be open to the idea of moving him on Saturday.”

Shortly thereafter, Breer offers a clarfying point about Cook’s deal: “Of course, I’d imagine a team trading for him would want to amend his contract too.”

Keeping track of everything?

Fowler, Wolfson, and Breer are all respected NFL insiders, but of the three Wolfson is the one we should be most interested in following. The man is pretty on the ball when it comes to Vikings rumors. Like the KSTP reporter, I believe a Dalvin Cook trade will soon come to fruition.

Nov 1, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrates with offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland (72) after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

And, indeed, all the reports aren’t necessarily contradictory. Minnesota is likely considering all of its options. Reinforcing the RB depth would certainly increase the chances of a trade, especially if that addition comes from somewhere in RD1-RD3.

Plus, we need to remember that we’re living in the time of subterfuge and tomfoolery. A lot of what we read in the headlines is misleading info since every franchise wants to appear like they could do a number of different things. The Vikings, in all likelihood, prefer a trade above all else. It’s the option that (very likely) adds a draft pick(s) while clearing a lot of cap space.

Recently, we’ve explored the benefits and drawbacks of moving on from Cook. In the end, the deciding factor may end up being the cold, hard cash (it’s always about money in the NFL, isn’t it?). Trading him frees up $7,898,727, which should be more than enough to get the job done when it comes to officially signing the draft class.

In the end, what is still most significant is Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s recent words at his pre-draft press conference alongside Kevin O’Connell. When asked about Cook’s fit with Alexander Mattison, Minnesota’s outgoing GM stumbled to an answer.

Indeed, Adofo-Mensah’s answer about Dalvin Cook co-existing with Mattison didn’t exactly raise confidence levels that the current RB1 is sticking around The Gopher State. Before noting that they can be “complementary” talents and that “in theory” they can partner together, Adofo-Mensah had a couple seconds where he needed to gather his thoughts. The moment or two where he wasn’t saying anything said as much as the actual words.

The GM’s somewhat clunky answer suggests that the trade possibility is alive and well on Minnesota’s end.

For trade partners, keep an eye on the Bills (where his little brother plays). Buffalo is an AFC team looking to contend in 2023. Ramping up their run game would make life easier for Mr. Allen and Mr. Diggs.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Dec 17, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills running back James Cook (28) is upended on a play against the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Dalvin Cook had 264 carries, 1173 rushing yards, and 8 TDs. He added on 39 catches, 295 receiving yards, and 2 TDs. The 2023 season represents the third year of the extension he signed at the beginning of the 2020 season. Left untouched, Cook’s deal will carry a $14.1 million cap hit.

The NFL Draft begins tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CT. Minnesota currently owns the 23rd pick.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.