Report: Dalvin Cook Won’t Take Less on Contract

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.

Since the season ended, Vikings fans (and writers) have been moving full steam ahead with the hypothetical salary cap scenarios and roster speculation. The team is lacking cap space – or, rather, is more than $23 million in the red – so we know that roster shuffling is incoming. Dalvin Cook commonly comes up in these conversations, largely due to his sizable cap hit.

Dalvin Cook and The 2023 Budget

According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the purple RB1 isn’t particularly inclined to adjust his deal. Luke Braun relays the information:

In some of the Twitter comments, Wolfson jumps in to offer clarity and extra information. In one instance, he notes the tricky situation the Vikings are in: “He stayed healthy all year, is still fully capable of being among the best RBs in the game. Just, hard, IMO, to pay a RB that much in a KOC offense (even if in exit interviews running it more in 2023 came up).”

As many will know by now, the Vikings ran the ball very sparingly in 2022. In fact, they came in at 27th in the NFL in terms of rush attempts. Cook is going to carry more than $14.1 million on the cap if nothing gets adjusted. Given how little they run, does it makes sense to pay a RB1 so much money?

Nov 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; General view as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hands the ball to running back Dalvin Cook (33) in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Wolfson gets at this idea in the quotation. Compounding the challenge is that Cook only caught 39 balls for 295 yards in 2022, so he wasn’t an elite receiving option last season. Being a top-tier receiving threat from the backfield would certainly make the case for keeping Cook more robust.

Moving on from the veteran RB – who is 27 – would clear nearly $7.9 million on the cap while leaving behind a touch above $6.2 million. Complicating the situation, perhaps, is that Alexander Mattison is a soon-to-be free agent. The end result of a cut, then, would be just Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu as RBs. Neither have much experience in an NFL offense.

Dalvin Cook / Kirk Cousins
Aug 24, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hands the ball off to running back Dalvin Cook (33) during the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Dalvin Cook was a team captain in 2022. For a little while, it’s been clear that he’s one of the roster’s main leaders, and the “C” on his chest simply underscored what has long been apparent.

Though there has sometimes been frustration about his injuries, Cook has also demonstrated tremendous toughness at various points in his career. He can run with great physicality even though he’s more well-known for his gliding, elusive style.

Despite the somewhat smaller role, Cook still put together 1173 rushing yards in 2022. He did so through 264 carries, meaning he averaged 4.4 YPA. Something that’s a touch more concerning is that his PFF grade was at 68.1, which comes in at 42nd out of the 60 RBs considered in the rankings. In 2020, Cook finished 3rd overall with a stellar 89.0 grade.

In all likelihood, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going to continue pursuing his competitive rebuild. As a result, the GM won’t be jettisoning every talented veteran, but he also won’t be retaining every one of them, either. Adofo-Mensah (presumably with much input from the HC) will need to be making the difficult decisions about who stays and goes.

According to the report, Cook isn’t particularly enthused about trimming money off his deal. We’ll see what the Vikings and the RB1 decide to do in the coming weeks.

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