Why Not Dalvin Cook?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Best available, right? That’s the self-stated criteria when Kwesi Adofo-Mensah answered a question in March about whether Minnesota would re-sign Dalton Risner. The evasive answer accomplished its goal, prompting KFAN’s Paul Allen to shift gears and move onto other topics (spoiler alert: Risner did get brought back).

Is Dalvin Cook the best available at running back? If so, does he fit Adofo-Mensah’s criteria?

Right now, all of the rumors are surrounding Cam Akers, a different former Vikings running back. Per Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press, the Vikings are looking to bring him back (and something Dustin Baker corroborates). Doing so would beef up the RB3 competition as Minnesota transitions toward life without a QB1 they’re fully confident in. Would re-adding Cook make any sense?

Dalvin Cook and The 2024 Vikings

Yesterday, Dustin Baker considered the fits for Cook on Vikings Territory.

The list of teams — the Jaguars, Saints, 49ers, Seahawks, and Cowboys — all make at least some sense. Allow me to toss in the Chiefs — Super Bowl team with a desire to keep supporting Patrick Mahomes — and Browns — Kevin Stefanski connection — as teams that make sense. Oh, and the Bills, too.

Do the Vikings make any sense?

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

Recently, the running back started making the rounds on Vikings-themed social media due to him sharing the highlights from Minnesota’s wild win over Buffalo in 2022. Fans with a good memory will recall that the running back helped to spark the come-from-behind win.

Consider what Cook had to say:

The long touchdown run at the beginning is classic Cook. The gliding, elusive explosion. Kicking it into high gear and then the acceleration to pull away. A smooth runner who is more Jamaal Charles than Adrian Peterson, Cook’s running style is elegance in shoulder pads.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) and offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw (71) react after a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

For whatever it’s worth, there’s some precedent with bringing back former Vikings. Last year, Anthony Barr got re-added and so, too, did Nick Vigil. If the linebacker depth can get beefed up with these Zimmer-era Vikings, should anything be different with Cook?

Of course, he isn’t the runner he once was.

Last year, the veteran agreed to a single-season deal to become a Jet. The $7 million ended up being a bad investment (though Aaron Rodgers’ early Achilles tear didn’t help). In New York, Cook’s 67 carries went for 214 yards and a single touchdown. The 3.2 yards-per-carry average was the worst of his career by a wide margin.

There was a brief relationship with the Ravens that lasted into the playoffs, but the runner didn’t do very much. He had 8 carries for 23 yards in Baltimore.

Sep 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The final season in Minnesota involved Cook rushing the ball 264 times for 1,173 yards and 8 touchdowns. He added on 39 catches for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns. So, rock-solid numbers even if the 4.4 yards-per-carry average was a career low at that point.

PFF has been less complimentary. In 2022, Cook snagged a pretty good 67.4 score on the analytics website. In 2023, the number dropped down to a dismal 54.3. But, in fairness, the Jets are an absolute mess of a team.

The appeal is that he likely has more burst than he showed last season and has a history of pretty strong production working under Kevin O’Connell. He’ll know the scheme already and may still be better than Akers, someone with multiple serious injuries on his resume.

As for the dollars and cents, the deal is unlikely to cost very much. His $7 million deal looked like a massive overpay, so whatever gets agreed to in the current offseason is going to be for much less.

Dec 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs the ball in the fourth quarter against Chicago Bears defensive back Kyle Fuller (23) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Dalvin Cook will turn 29 on August 10th. As an RB3, the Vikings could do far worse.

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

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.