The loaded 2017 running back class is now extension-eligible, and the group that houses Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones and others stands to reshape the running back market. The Vikings certainly employ a back on that tier and will soon explore keeping him in Minnesota long-term.
Although the Vikings’ payroll is flush with high-end extensions for homegrown players, they are ready to explore what it will take to keep Dalvin Cook in purple beyond 2020, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).
Cook’s second-round rookie deal runs through 2020; he is due to make $1.3MM next season. The Pro Bowl back flourished in Gary Kubiak‘s scheme this season, driving the Vikings to the divisional round with a career-high 1,654 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns. Cook, 24, will be one of the key figures in an interesting offseason for the 2017 running back class.
Minnesota is projected to be $3MM-plus over the cap and already has skill-position talents Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph signed long-term. The system Kubiak uses has a history of churning out numerous 1,000-yard running backs, dating back to his first stint in Denver, and Alexander Mattison (signed through 2022) showed immediate promise behind Cook this season. Cook also has missed time due to injury in each of his three seasons, but he bounced back from a 2017 ACL tear to become one of the NFL’s best.
It’s clear the Vikings want to see what it will take to extend Cook, who will surely be eyeing a deal on the Ezekiel Elliott–Todd Gurley level ($14.5MM AAV-plus). The Vikings certainly have a history with mega-extensions for running backs. They gave Adrian Peterson a market-resetting six-year deal worth $96MM in 2011, when the salary cap was $120MM. The cap is expected to rise to around $200MM come March.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.