Dalvin Cook has been mentioned as prime trade candidate all offseason, but now that the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone, is the Minnesota Vikings running back still on the block? Let’s dive into the latest rumors surrounding Cook as the Vikings plan the rest of their offseason.
Dalvin Cook Trade Rumors
Cook, who has managed at least 1,300 scrimmage yards in each of the last four seasons, has been viewed as a trade or release possibility ever since early March. Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah called Cook a “great, great leader” but suggested that Cook’s upcoming $14.1 million cap charge could present a problem.
“In the NFL, you have a lot of constraints, salary cap, different things, and we’re trying to figure out how we can operate in those things,” Adofo-Mensah said.
A few weeks later, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Minnesota had held trade talks centered around Cook. Then, the Vikings re-signed backup RB Alexander Mattison to a two-year deal with $6.35 million guaranteed, further clouding Cook’s role with the club. Still, Adofo-Mensah indicated that both backs could remain on Minnesota’s roster.
“I think, in theory, they could exist, of course,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Different style of backs. Again, we talk about the systems we’re trying to play. Together, they’re different styles of backs. They could fit complementary together, for sure.”
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Heading into Day 3 of the draft, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported the Vikings were still willing to “listen” to offers for Cook. However, Breer said that Cook would need to rework his contract before a deal could become feasible. Because revised contracts must be on the books for 24 hours before they can be dealt, a trade involving 2023 draft picks wasn’t going to work.
Cook’s 2023 cap figure is comprised of a $10.4 million base salary, $3.1 million in signing bonus proration, $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses, and a $100,000 workout bonus. Only $2 million of his salary is guaranteed.
Rival teams may want to slash Cook’s salary to the $6-7 million range — the same value earned by free agents Miles Sanders and David Montgomery this offseason — to facilitate a trade. The Vikings, who currently have the third-least cap space ($1.2 million) in the NFL, are likely targeting a pay cut in that same neighborhood.
If Minnesota cuts Cook before June 1, they’ll take on $8.2 million in dead money this season while clearing nearly $6 million in cap space. If they wait until after June 1, they can spread out Cook’s dead cap over the next two years while saving $9 million.
Are the Miami Dolphins Still Interested in Dalvin Cook?
The Miami Dolphins have been mentioned as Cook’s primary suitor since Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald first reported the club’s interest in March. Per Jackson, the Vikings and Dolphins continued to discuss Cook during the draft, but a deal “didn’t work out.”
However, Miami may no longer have a running back vacancy. The Dolphins brought back all four of the RBs who were on their roster last season — Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed — then selected Texas A&M’s Devon Achane in the third round of last week’s draft.
Achane, who led all backs at the Scouting Combine with a 4.32 40-yard dash and ranked second with a 1.51 10-yard split, profiles as a perfect fit for Miami’s offensive scheme, and head coach Mike McDaniel was pleased to land him.
“I mean, speed we generally like around here,” McDaniel said. “But I think it’s more of you feel like there’s a fit in terms of a guy fitting within your existing team. You’re always keeping in mind that you’re adding players to the team and really think that that group, in particular, the running back room for us is very important.
You find a person and player that fits your skill set that you like but also that fits within the room because we have some other good competition in there as well. So we’re real excited to add a player to a group. And he is fast. Chris and I share that — we do have affection for that trait.”
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While the Dolphins trading for Cook can’t be ruled out, it’s clearly far less likely now that Miami has added Achane. And looking around the league, it’s difficult to identify a landing spot that makes perfect sense for Cook.
The Denver Broncos could conceivably add another back depending on Javonte Williams’ status as he recovers from a torn ACL. Cook could fit with the Dallas Cowboys, who might want a tag-team partner for Tony Pollard. And the Los Angeles Chargers still need a running mate for Austin Ekeler, especially if they don’t feel confident in 2022 fourth-rounder Isaiah Spiller.
Still, the Vikings might struggle to get more than a late Day 3 pick from any of those teams, even if Cook is willing to rework his contract. At the end of the day, the most likely outcome might involve Cook either accepting a pay cut from Minnesota or being released.
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