It feels like every day we learn something new about the Dalvin Cook “holdout” (because he’s not actually holding out from anything right now), with yesterday being no exception. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin had reported over a month ago that there was a relatively wide gulf between what the Vikings pegged Cook’s services at (from a dollars and cents standpoint) and what Cook and his agent did.
The general figures there were $8m-to-$10m and $13m-to-$15m per season, respectively, which would’ve already put Cook in the rarified air that only a handful of running backs currently can afford to breath (Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Christian McCaffrey, etc). Now, thanks to ESPN (again) we know that that gap was actually much wider and the air much… Thinner.
This news isn’t exactly brand new, but it’s just now making the rounds for some reason and it’s not something we’ve articulated previously. ESPN’s always spot on Courtney Cronin Tweeted the following back on the 8th of June:
You read that right.
Christian McCaffrey who is the go to mention for any non-QB MVP right now, who has amassed around 510 rushes and 224 receptions in the past two seasons for a total of around 2,400 yards on the ground and nearly 1,900 yards receiving in the past two seasons. Compare that to Cook, who has missed 34 out of a possible of 48 games in his first three seasons and who had a whopping 1,100 yards rushing in 2019 and you might begin to understand why Vikings fans are quickly souring on Cook and his “holdout”.
As previously discussed, by me, the reason Cook started his holdout before Summer is that he knows he can’t afford to sit out for any real-time during the pre-season, let alone the regular season. Based on the current CBA, Cook would essentially be spending 2019 money if he holds out for any more than 28/29 days (per his 2020 salary of $1.9 million), so he started his holdout before he can be fined in the hopes that it would create some leverage for him as, according to Cronin again, he has tried to get an extension from the Vikings for “months”.
The team instead opted to focus on quarterback Kirk Cousins first, which seems dubious considering the fact that the team always said that it is a run-first organization. To me, that shows that they’re at best on the fence about paying an injury-prone running back even $13-million a season let alone a number north of $16 million.
Sure, people always start high when negotiating and sure Cook had an amazing 2019, but considering that the team has a poor man’s Cook on the roster in Alexander Mattison and that they now have Gary Kubiak running the offense (who runs the same system as Mike Shanahan, who was known for creating 1,000 yard rushers thanks to his zone blocking/running system) and it’s not hard to see why the Vikings haven’t rolled out a Brinks truck for Cook.
That’s not necessarily the worst idea, as you’d think that some combination of Mattison and pre-season stud Mike Boone would be able to muster 1,000 yards on the ground while also staying healthy and not asking for anywhere near $17 million dollars a season.
Considering the fact that Cousins already makes a large percentage of the Vikings’ cap space himself, if the Vikings did pay Cook $17 million dollars they’d be nearing 25% of their cap going towards just two players. That’d be fine if the Vikings started playing basketball, but with a starting roster of 22 players and an in-season roster of 55, that’s just not a sustainable way to build a football team.
Perhaps this was the Vikings’ game plan all along. Trading away Diggs was something they had to do and I haven’t seen anyone write or comment anything differently. Had they decided to stonewall and move on from Cook a month ago, though, perhaps fans would begin to panic as the team has already also moved on from a lot of their big names this off-season thanks to their salary cap situation.
Now that Cook is not only holding out from nothing (during a Pandemic and civil unrest) and we know what his demands are from one good season, I don’t think many Vikings fans would feel bad if the team went into the season with Mattison as their number one because Cook is still holding out. That means that Cook’s plan to create leverage backfired immensley and that he is most likely going to receive less money than he otherwise would’ve.
If anything, Dalvin should hold out from his agent for giving him this advice.