Vikings would release RB Dalvin Cook on Friday if they can’t trade him

Minnesota Vikings would release running back Dalvin Cook on Friday, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. There’s still a chance the Vikings will trade Cook before Friday, however, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cook, who will turn 28 before the start of the 2023 season, has rushed for nearly 6,000 yards in six seasons with Minnesota, including at least 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons. He’s also made the Pro Bowl in each of the past four seasons and rushed for the fourth-most yards among any running back since the Vikings drafted him in 2017.

Unless Cook returns to the Vikings later in his career, he will finish as the team’s third all-time rusher with 5,993 yards. Only Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith rushed for more. His 47 rushing touchdowns rank him fourth in franchise history.

Cook’s contract, age and injury history likely played a role

Although Cook still proved to be a productive running back, his salary cap was about to cost a lot. Cook signed a five-year, $63 million extension in 2020, but only $2 million of Cook’s 2023 salary was guaranteed. He would have counted $14.1 million against the salary cap had he remained on the roster. A designation after June 1 also saves the Vikings $9 million in cap release, per Over The Cap.

It could also be Minnesota’s attempt to avoid the dreaded running back cliff. Only 13 running backs since 2015 have eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in a season after turning 28 and only two – Aaron Jones and Derrick Henry – have done so since 2020. Cook has also seen a dip in efficiency in 2022 : his rushing yards compared to expectations have dropped from +81 to -41 over the past year, according to NextGen statisticsand Cook led the NFL with 62 runs lost or not won a year, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.

Cook also has a long injury history. Despite not missing a game in 2022 for the first time in his career, Cook has missed at least three games every two seasons, including a torn ACL in his rookie season and multiple back injuries. ‘shoulder. Cook underwent shoulder surgery in February but should be ready for the 2023 season.

Dalvin Cook has rushed for over 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.  (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Dalvin Cook has rushed for over 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Cook joins list of veteran running backs released

Two other highly drafted former running backs also hit free agency after being released by their respective teams.

The Dallas Cowboys eliminated 2016 No. 4 pick Ezekiel Elliott while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved on Leonard Fournette, who was drafted 37 picks earlier than Cook by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. Both were productive veterans who saw their effectiveness diminish, and their teams decided to abandon them for younger and somewhat cheaper players. The Cowboys will look to Tony Pollard, while the Buccaneers like what they have in 2022, third round Rachaad White.

Alexander Mattison, who has backed Cook since 2019, looks like the Vikings’ backfield heir. Minnesota reportedly bought Mattison before the 2022 season, but decided to keep him and re-sign him to a two-year, $7 million deal with $6.35 million fully guaranteed.

Cook’s possible team matches

Like Elliott and Fournette, there are plenty of teams that could use a veteran running back like Cook.

It will obviously depend on the price, but Cook – who grew up and played college in Florida – could make a return to his home state with the Miami Dolphins, who reportedly almost traded for Cook in March, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. The Dolphins have plenty of running backs, but their two best options are injury-prone Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. Mostert just turned 31 and Wilson turns 28 in November.

The Denver Broncos are also another team very interested in signing Cook once he is officially on the open market, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Running back Javonte Williams is still recovering from a torn ACL and Samaje Perine is the only other experienced rusher on the depth chart.

However, perhaps the most interesting team would be the Buffalo Bills. Cook’s brother, James Cook, is slated to start running at Buffalo and rumors linked him to the Bills earlier this offseason.

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