I’ve loved Dalvin Cook since he arrived in Minnesota. I saw him in his first training camp and he made the other running backs look like they were trying to do their drills in sand, his feet were that quick. He has had the potential to be the best running back in the NFL and there was a stretch last season where I thought he was right up there with Christian McCaffrey in that regard.
However, I agree with the general sentiment that he needs to show that he can stay healthy for an entire season, but it seems like he isn’t asking for McCaffrey money. According to the Athletics Chad Graff, Cook is looking for around $13 million per year.
If the Vikings are offering around $8 million per year, they might be lowballing a bit given how good Cook has been and that he is coming off a season where he did play in 14 of 16 games and both playoff games. We all understand that this is a business, but the team had a chance to give a huge vote of confidence to Cook by offering a better deal initially.
Indeed, Cook’s performance against New Orleans in the postseason needs more love. It is the best statistical performance by a Minnesota running back in the playoffs since Adrian Peterson in the 2009 NFC Championship game. The same game where Peterson fumbled twice including what might have been the most critical one of his entire career.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Cook felt disrespected by the Vikings offer, and I don’t blame him. Cook has been a great talent since day one and given it his all at every turn. He’s had some rough luck with an ACL tear and the subsequent hamstring problems that come with recovering from that.
Of course, I understand the team’s perspective and the fact that running backs are a dime a dozen, but running backs with Cook’s abilities are not. Given the Vikings cap flexibility in 2021, they could afford to throw some extra money at Cook and hope to hold onto an amazing player, keep continuity in the running back room, and give them more time to find a gamebreaker to replace him with.
The real benefactor of this whole situation, either an extended Dalvin Cook holdout or the team letting him walk, is second year man Alexander Mattison. Mattison did a great job as a change of pace for Cook last season putting up 544 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown. If Cook doesn’t play, Mattison is suddenly your number one back.
While I have a ton of faith in Mattison and would be happy to see him used more, I think he’s best right now as a backup. I also don’t have a ton of faith in the rest of the Vikings backfield. Ameer Abdullah is a decent receiving back, but I wouldn’t want to have to hand it off to him more than once or twice every few weeks. Mike Boone has looked good in preseason and week 17 of last season, but is still somewhat unproven and was involved in multiple turnovers in week 17.
If the Vikings can get Cook to sign for about $10 million per year, that would be incredibly shrewd of them. However, I think they should be ready and willing to bump that number up to $11 or $12 million. Cook has shown that he has the talent, now give him your confidence.