Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah recently stopped short of guaranteeing that RB Dalvin Cook would be back with the team in 2023, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says multiple clubs believe Minnesota has entertained trade discussions on the four-time Pro Bowler (subscription required).
Cook, 27, is under club control through 2025 thanks to the five-year, $63MM extension he signed in September 2020. That accord makes him the fourth-highest-paid RB in the league in terms of AAV, but his production has justified the splurge on a generally devalued position. Over the past four seasons, which all culminated in Pro Bowl acclaim, the Florida State product has averaged 1,256 rushing yards per year while maintaining a YPC rate over 4.6. He has also added roughly 350 receiving yards per season, and he amassed 30 total touchdowns across the 2019-20 campaigns.
On the other hand, the Vikings are in a difficult salary cap situation despite the recent cuts of Cameron Dantzler, Adam Thielen, and Eric Kendricks, and trading Cook would result in a cap savings of nearly $8MM (though it would also come with a dead cap charge of over $6MM). Plus, Cook’s YPC dropped to 4.4 in 2022, which is a solid mark but which nonetheless represents the lowest single-season average of his career. He did suit up for all 18 of Minnesota’s games in 2022 — the first time he ever enjoyed perfect attendance — though he typically misses at least some time due to injury and could be sidelined for much, if not all, of the offseason program and training camp due to shoulder surgery.
Longtime Cook backup, Alexander Mattison, is eligible for free agency for the first time in his career. As Fowler notes, Mattison is in line for a role as a full-time starter somewhere, and that might just be in Minnesota. The 2019 third-rounder would doubtlessly be much less expensive than Cook, but he has shown promise as an understudy and is obviously already familiar with the team’s offense. Fowler reports that the Vikes are indeed attempting to re-sign Mattison.
Cook is the second high-profile, well-compensated back whose name has surfaced in recent trade rumors. Last week, we heard that the Titans were shopping Derrick Henry, though a subsequent report suggested otherwise.