What's the Deal With Dalvin Cook and the Vikings?

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What’s the Deal With Dalvin Cook and the Vikings?


The Minnesota Vikings have had an interesting offseason. Fresh off of a 13-win season and an early playoff exit, Minnesota has parted ways with numerous veteran players. The Vikings traded edge rusher Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns last week. They also cut ties with wide receiver Adam Thielen and linebacker Eric Kendricks this offseason.

Still, it feels like there’s one more obvious goodbye waiting to be had in Minnesota ahead of the 2023 season. Running back Dalvin Cook and his $10.4 million salary presents a strange situation for the Vikings. Minnesota would prefer to trade Cook. However, a suitor hasn’t emerged. It’s unlikely that one would at this point.

Minnesota has even removed Cook from their social media banner, replacing him with backfield mate Alexander Mattison.

So, what gives?

Moving on from Cook could free up anywhere from $5-10 million in 2023 cap space. However, whether the Vikings cut or trade Cook, a post-June 1 designation would be better for the Vikings’ salary cap. Here’s how the potential outs would affect the Vikings’ 2023 cap space, which currently sits at $9,579,639 per OTC.

  • Cut (Pre-6/1): $15,478,366
  • Cut (Post-6/1): $18,579,639
  • Trade (Pre-6/1): $17,478,366
  • Trade (Post-6/1): $20,579,639

So, the reason for the delay likely comes down to dollars and cents. Cutting or trading Cook after June 1 bumps the Vikings’ 2023 cap space by $3 million in either scenario compared to doing so before June 1.

The optimal outcome for the Vikings would be a post-June 1 trade. That would give the Vikings roughly $20 million in 2023 cap space. However, the Vikings should pull the trigger before June 1 if they’re looking to funnel some of that space toward Justin Jefferson’s looming extension.

That $3 million bump that they would get in $2023 would be $3 million against their 2024 cap number if they wait. If Here’s what the Vikings’ 2024 cap space would be affected by the moves:

  • Cut (Pre-6/1): $57.5M
  • Cut (Post-6/1): $54.4M
  • Trade (Pre-6/1): $57.5M
  • Trade (Post-6/1): $54.4M

Justin Jefferson was a first-round pick in 2020 and is eligible for a contract extension. The Vikings exercised his fifth-year option last month to give themselves a longer runway to work things out, so he’s under contract for the next two seasons. However, the sooner, the better on that front.

As for Cook, while he turns 28 in August, he just played his first full season in 2022. Before 2022, Cook missed time due to injury every season. Cook had his second-most carries and rushing yards of his career in 2022. Still, the Vikings seem to be going in a younger, cheaper direction this offseason. So, the speculation that Cook’s time in Minnesota is ending is palpable.

Factor in the Vikings viewing Alexander Mattison as a capable replacement, and here we are. Still, unless the Vikings plan on extending Jefferson before the 2023 season and need to get closer to the number he needs, Cook has a great case to remain in Minnesota this season.

Suppose Minnesota does move on from Dalvin Cook in the next few weeks. In that case, I will see that as a clear indicator that they’re determined to get Justin Jefferson’s extension done before the 2023 season starts.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.