Dalvin Cook

Vikings Sign RB Dalvin Cook To Five-Year Extension

The Vikings and running back Dalvin Cook have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension, reports Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (via Twitter). Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets that the deal is worth $63MM with $28MM in guaranteed money. Pelissero adds that Cook earned a $15.5MM signing bonus, which is the largest for a non-QB in team history.

It was only a few days ago that we heard the two sides were “not close” on a deal. The Vikings had been negotiating with Cook’s camp for some time, and despite the Vikings front office tabling talks back in August, both sides were still focused on completing a deal. Talks never sounded contentious, although Cook did stage a mini holdout earlier this offseason. While it never seemed like Cook was going to sit out, things could have gotten worse if Minny tagged the running back following the 2020 campaign. Now, obviously, that isn’t a concern.

Earlier this year, Cook was reportedly targeting a $15MM/year salary, but it always seemed unlikely the Vikings would come anywhere near that figure. The new deal will pay him around $12.6MM per year, which is a step up on Joe Mixon‘s recent four-year, $48MM deal with the Bengals.

Now 25 years old, Cook has been always been productive when he’s been able to remain on the field. Last year, the former second-round pick posted 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground and added 53 receptions and 519 yards in the passing game. Health has always remained a question mark for Cook, however, and his 14 games in 2019 marked a career-high.

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Vikings, Dalvin Cook Not Close On Extension

The Vikings are “not close” on an extension with running back Dalvin Cook, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Minnesota reportedly tabled talks in mid-August, but the club is still apparently hoping to work out a new deal for Cook before the season begins. However, the two sides still appear to be far apart in negotiations.

Earlier this year, Cook was reportedly targeting a $15MM/year salary, but it always seemed unlikely the Vikings would come anywhere near that figure. Joe Mixon, perhaps the best comparable for Cook, recently inked a four-year, $48MM deal with the Bengals that contains a team-friendly structure (just $10MM guaranteed), but it’s unclear if Cook and his camp would accept such a pact.

Cook staged a mini-holdout earlier this year, but the new CBA essentially prevents any longstanding preseason holdouts from taking place. Additionally, if Cook sits out regular season games, he could put his 2021 unrestricted free agent status at risk.

Now 25 years old, Cook has been always been productive when he’s been able to remain on the field. Last year, the former second-round pick posted 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground and added 53 receptions and 519 yards in the passing game. Health has always remained a question mark for Cook, however, and his 14 games in 2019 marked a career-high.

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Vikings To Acquire Yannick Ngakoue From Jaguars

Yannick Ngakoue finally got his wish. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com was the first to report, the Jaguars have traded their disgruntled defensive end to the Vikings in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round selection that could become a fourth- or third-round choice.

Ngakoue has wanted out of Jacksonville for some time. Last July, he became upset when then-executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin abruptly ended extension negotiations with the 2016 third-rounder, and while he did suit up for the club in the 2019 season, he made it clear this offseason that the relationship between him and the team was beyond repair.

The Jaguars put the franchise tag on him, valued at $17.8MM, but he did not sign the tag, and all indications were that, if he wasn’t traded, he was going to stay away from the team until Week 10 of the 2020 season. That would have been the deadline for him to be able to count 2020 as an accredited year towards free agency.

Given his very public unhappiness with Jacksonville, the fact that the deadline for tagged players to sign an extension passed on July 15, and his high franchise tag number, the Jags didn’t have a ton of leverage. But GM Dave Caldwell managed to finagle two draft picks out of the Vikings, and Schefter says the 2022 fifth-rounder will become a fourth-rounder if Ngakoue makes the Pro Bowl in 2020 and will become a third-rounder if he makes the Pro Bowl and the Vikings win the Super Bowl.

From the Vikings’ perspective, that’s a relatively small price to pay for the chance to bookend Ngakoue with another talented young pass rusher, Danielle Hunter. The team lost longtime stalwart Everson Griffen to the Cowboys earlier this month, and as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes, Minnesota began working on an Ngakoue deal as soon as it became clear Griffen wasn’t coming back (Twitter link).

In order to make the trade work, the Vikings did have to create some cap room. Further proving just how desperate he was to get out of Jacksonville, Ngakoue reduced his 2020 pay from $17.8MM to just below $13MM to facilitate the deal (Twitter link via Albert Breer of SI.com). Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com reports that Minnesota could also rework an existing contract and names LT Riley Reiff as a potential restructure candidate. Cronin says the team will not cut a player just for salary cap purposes (Twitter links).

However, Cronin points out that the Ngakoue acquisition could mean that the team is not going to reach an extension with running back Dalvin Cook (Twitter link). The two sides recently agreed to table contract negotiations, and without a major cost-cutting move or two, Cook may be destined for free agency in 2021.

But that’s another story for another day. For now, the Vikings have solidified their status as one of the top teams in the NFC, and the Hunter-Ngakoue combination will be a formidable one for opposing offenses, especially when considering the similar excellence the team enjoys in its LB and DB corps.

Ngakoue is not particularly strong against the run, but he has averaged over nine sacks per season over his first four years in the league, and he has also shown some serious play-making ability. He has forced 14 fumbles to date, and as Schefter writes, the Maryland product is directly responsible for five of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016. Cronin observes in a full-length piece that Ngakoue had a pass-rush win rate of 21% as an edge rusher last season, which ranked higher than Griffen (17%) and Hunter (15%).

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes that the Vikings plan to sign Ngakoue to a long-term deal after the 2020 season (video link). While Minnesota will have a number of other contract issues to address, pairing Ngakoue and Hunter together for the foreseeable future will be an indubitably tempting proposition.

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Vikings Table Dalvin Cook Talks

Contract talks between the Vikings and running back Dalvin Cook have been put on pause, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Talks could resume at some point before the end of the season but, for now, Cook says he’s keeping his focus on the season ahead.

Cook is entering the walk year of his rookie deal, putting him on track for free agency in March. The Vikings could keep him from the open market with the franchise tag, but that likely won’t sit well with the former second-round pick. Throughout the spring, there were rumblings of a potential 2020 holdout, so Cook could very well take a hard-line stance next year. On the plus side, Cook has repeatedly expressed a desire to stay in Minnesota.

This is where I want to be at. This is what I love to do,” Cook said recently. “I was going to be here regardless of whatever the speculations (that) came up or (questions of) if I wasn’t coming. I was going to be here ready to work. … I’m locked up full go, a thousand percent.”

Cook is set to make $1.33MM this year. Both sides would like to hammer out an extension, but the running back’s $15MM-per-year asking price is a bit too high for the Vikes, especially with a salary cap slash on the way.

Last year, Cook posted career highs with 250 carries, 1,135 rushing yards (4.5 YPC), and 13 touchdowns. He also managed 53 catches for 519 yards, positioning him as one of the best RBs in the league. Those totals would have been even higher, if not for a late-season chest injury.

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NFC North Rumors: Vikings, Lions, Patterson

Two weeks after reporting to Vikings camp on time, Dalvin Cook reaffirmed his commitment to the team. Going into a contract year, the Pro Bowl running back surfaced in holdout rumors this offseason. Cook, however, said the holdout noise did not come from him.

This is where I want to be at. This is what I love to do,” Cook said of his Vikings status, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin. “I was going to be here regardless of whatever the speculations (that) came up or (questions of) if I wasn’t coming. I was going to be here ready to work. … I’m locked up full go, a thousand percent.”

The Vikings and Cook were not the same page financially, and OC Gary Kubiak — save for Terrell Davis and Arian Foster — has used a system that has featured extensive running back turnover during his two-plus decades overseeing NFL offenses. Cook is set to make $1.33MM this season. The Vikings have younger backs Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone in place as backups. While the Vikings would prefer to extend Cook, the $15MM-per-year price point that emerged appears far less palatable now that the cap could plummet by more than $20MM in 2021.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Lions workout in which Trevor Siemian participated also included veteran wideout Chris Hogan, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Now 32, Hogan is coming off an injury-sidetracked season with the Panthers. However, he was with the Patriots during Matt Patricia‘s run there. Hogan led the NFL with 17.9 yards per catch in 2016. While Hogan was not as effective in subsequent Pats years, he served as a key option for Tom Brady for most of his three-year New England stay. The Lions employ several ex-Patriots, having added a few more this offseason. Friday’s workout also included wide receivers Shelton Gibson, Krishawn Hogan and Keon Hatcher.
  • An interesting development from Bears camp: Cordarrelle Patterson is not working with Chicago’s wide receiver group. Instead, the All-Pro kick returner is practicing as a running back, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes. The Bears had hoped to dial up more plays to capitalize on the veteran’s unique skill set last season, and Garafolo adds that should be something to monitor for the upcoming campaign. Patterson never worked out as a true receiver, but the All-Decade return man has enjoyed success as a gadget piece while seeing some running back snaps in New England.
  • The Vikings have previously mentioned the prospect of Riley Reiff shifting to guard, but they shut that down this year. However, the veteran left tackle said he would be ready to move inside if called upon, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Reiff is in Year 4 of a five-year contract. The Vikings drafted tackle Ezra Cleveland in Round 2, but the pandemic will make matters especially difficult on young O-linemen. This would point to Cleveland spending 2020 as a developmental backup. Cleveland, however, is competing for the Vikes’ vacant right guard spot, along with Dakota Dozier and Aviante Collins, Kubiak said.

Latest On Vikings, Dalvin Cook

It sounds like the Vikings and Dalvin Cook are on better terms than they were a few weeks ago. The star running back has indicated that he will not hold out from the team, according to head coach Mike Zimmer, who adds that he is going to make him a team captain in 2020 (via PFT). 

[RELATED: Cook Seeking $15MM/Year?]

Cook is set to make $1.331MM in his walk year. Meanwhile, he’s been angling for a long-term deal that will make him one of the league’s highest-paid running backs. That’s a difficult proposition for a number of reasons. First, there’s the current economic climate. There’s also the matter of Cook’s track record – he was stellar in 2019, but often injured in his previous seasons.

Cook averaged almost 5.0 ypc in his first four games as a pro, before going down with an ACL tear. In 2018, a nagging hamstring capped him at just eleven games, though he did manage 4.6 yards per tote, plus 40 catches for 305 yards. Last year, he put up career highs left and right –250 carries, 1,135 rushing yards (4.5 YPC), and 13 touchdowns, along with 53 receptions for 519 yards. Those totals would have been even gaudier, if not for a late-season chest injury.

Christian McCaffrey blew the lid off of the RB market earlier this year, perhaps paving the way for Cook to secure an even larger bag. Eventually, Cook could get the eight-figure-per-year salary he wants, but it probably won’t happen this week. The COVID-19 opt out option is Cook’s last real piece of leverage, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll take advantage of that threat.

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Latest On Dalvin Cook, Vikings

With Dalvin Cook in the midst of a holdout, the Vikings are especially focused on signing their stud running back to an extension. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets that Minny’s front office wants to “continue to work toward signing” the Pro Bowler.

This isn’t a particularly shocking development; the Vikings have continually been interested in re-signing Cook. However, their initial offer wasn’t to the running back’s liking, leading to Cook’s decision to avoid team-related activities until he received a “reasonable” deal. The 24-year-old’s camp is reportedly seeking a deal that would pay him around $15MM annually, which is a bit less than the $16MM they initially pitched to the Vikings.

For what it’s worth, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak doesn’t sound all that concerned about Cook’s holdout.

“That’s part of the business,” Kubiak said (via Dane Mizutani of TwinCities.com). “We all understand that. Those guys will do their job. We have to stay focused on our job as a football team moving forward.”

The coach noted that the running back is plenty familiar with the team’s offense, adding that Cook “could teach [a] class” on the system. That sentiment was certainly confirmed in 2019, as the former second-rounder established career-highs in rushing yards (1,135), receptions (53), receiving yards (519), and touchdowns (13).

Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports recently explored a potential compromise between Cook and the Vikings, writing that a three-year deal may make sense for both sides. Using the running back franchise tag as a basis, La Canfora suggests a deal that would pay Cook a bit less than $40MM between 2020 and 2022.

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Vikings’ Dalvin Cook Seeking $15MM/Year?

Dalvin Cook is staying away from the Vikings until he receives a “reasonable” offer for his next contract. His exact demands are unclear, but sources tell ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin that Cook is seeking something in the range of $15MM per year.

[RELATED: Dalvin Cook To Wage Holdout]

Cook’s representatives opened talks by pitching the Vikings on a ~$16MM/year deal, roughly matching the record-breaking extension signed by Panthers star Christian McCaffrey. Cook’s camp has dialed that number back, but there’s still a significant gap between the two sides.

Cook has indicated that he won’t show up for work unless he gets the multi-year deal he’s seeking, but he can’t play the game of chicken for too long. Per the new collective bargaining agreement, players must report by the start of training camp in order to receive that year of credit towards free agency. Previously, that deadline was set at 30 days before the start of the regular season. Simply put, if Cook doesn’t show up for the start of camp, he won’t be eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2021 season.

Last year, Cook ran for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also added another 519 yards through the air, giving him more than 1,600 all-purpose yards on the year. Those totals would have been much higher if not for a late-season chest injury. For now, Cook is set to earn a base salary of $1.33MM in 2020 and he wants to lock down a larger payday – ideally, with the Vikings.

“I definitely love Minnesota,” the 24-year-old (25 in August) said recently. “I love everything the state has to bring. Being a kid, I was drafted (in 2017) from Miami (his hometown), so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I actually am happy where I’m at, and I would like to be in Minnesota long term.” 

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Dalvin Cook To Wage Holdout

One of several running backs from the 2017 draft class in talks regarding a new contact, Dalvin Cook made a move Monday to hopefully expedite proceedings.

The Vikings running back will no longer participate in team-related activities until he receives a “reasonable” deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Cook and the Vikes have begun negotiations, and the fourth-year running back has now pledged to sit out training camp if he and the team cannot agree on an extension, Schefter adds.

This is not exactly an unforeseen development. Cook is following Ezekiel Elliott‘s playbook from last year. The Cowboys running back participated in some of his team’s OTAs — when they were not virtual — before reconsidering and pledging to skip training camp. He did, and the tactic led to an extension. Cook has one year remaining on his contract and would normally possess a bit more leverage because he was not a first-round pick. Elliott had two years left on his rookie deal at the time.

Cook, however, is preparing a holdout on a different CBA — one that includes harsher penalties for skipping training camp workouts. Players will lose an accrued season toward free agency by not reporting to camp on time. Elliott bypassed the previous accrued-season deadline last year, however. Additionally, teams can no longer eliminate fines for players who skip camp, and said fines are now heftier. On a second-round contract, Cook has not accumulated what Elliott did through three years and is set to make just $1.3MM in 2020. This would be a bold move from the Vikings back.

The Vikings have not been shy about handing out extensions. In addition to the numerous re-ups they authorized for defenders from 2016-19 — several of which coming in the late summer — the Vikes extended Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in 2018 and ’19, respectively. Kirk Cousins also signed an extension this year.

Minnesota drafted Alexander Mattison in the third round last year; the rookie produced in a limited capacity. Cook earned his first Pro Bowl nod, shattering career-high marks with 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. But for a third straight year, he experienced injury trouble. That will play into the Vikings’ talks with their standout back.

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Poll: Should The Vikings Extend Dalvin Cook?

A number of teams have been burned by giving lucrative contracts to running backs. The Cardinals (David Johnson), Rams (Todd Gurley), and Falcons (Devonta Freeman) are among the clubs that have absorbed significant cap charges for players who did not live up to their big payday. None of those players made it to the end of their second contract before being traded or cut.

In addition, as important as some RBs can be to their team’s offense (see: Christian McCaffrey), the position has generally been devalued in recent years. The prevailing thought is that most running backs are more replaceable than players at other key positions, and that RBs have a shorter shelf-life due to their number of touches and the beatings they take whenever they have the ball in their hands.

The Vikings, therefore, have a major decision to make when it comes to their own RB1, 2017 second-rounder Dalvin Cook. Cook burst onto the scene in his rookie campaign, gaining 122 yards in his regular season debut and averaging nearly five yards per carry in his first four games in the league. Unfortunately, his season was ended by an ACL injury in the fourth game, and in 2018, he was bothered by nagging hamstring issues and played in just 11 games, recording 133 carries.

Despite the hamstring problems and the limited workload in 2018, Cook did manage 4.6 yards per carry that season and also recorded 40 receptions for 305 yards. And though he was limited down the stretch of the 2019 season due to a chest injury, he piled up 250 carries for 1,135 yards (4.5 YPC) and 13 TDs to go along with 53 catches for 519 yards. He ranked as the eighth-best back in the league in terms of defense-adjusted yards above replacement.

So when he’s healthy, he’s pretty darn good, especially for an offense that wants to run the ball a lot. And the silver lining to his injury history is that he should still have a fair amount of tread on his tires, having recorded just 457 carries in his pro career thus far.

On the other hand, the fact that he has missed time with various ailments over his first three seasons in the league is troubling, and for a team that does not have a lot of cap room — particularly if the 2021 cap is reduced due to COVID-19 — ponying up a big-money extension for an injury-risk RB could be problematic. Though Cook will likely not get McCaffrey money, he could easily command $15MM or so on an annual basis, with $30-$40MM in full guarantees.

The Vikings did not select an RB with any of their 15 (!) picks in this year’s draft, but they do return 2019 third-rounder Alexander Mattison, who performed well as Cook’s backup last season. One wonders if Mattison’s presence makes Minnesota less keen to break the bank for Cook.

That said, discussions between Cook and the Vikings have taken place. The soon-to-be 25-year-old said he wants to stay in Minnesota, and he has been participating in the club’s virtual offseason program. We haven’t gotten a status update on the contract talks for a bit — they may be stalled due to COVID-related uncertainty — and it remains to be seen whether a re-up will be hashed out this summer, or if Cook will play out the final year of his rookie deal with an eye towards unrestricted free agency in 2021.

So what do you think? Should Minnesota give Cook top-of-the-market money (or close to it), or should the club pass the torch to Mattison in 2021? Vote in the poll below, and show your work in the comment section.

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