Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook To Join Vikings’ Virtual OTAs

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook will be on hand (or, rather, online) for the Vikings’ virtual offseason program, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Cook has been pushing for a new deal as he enters his walk year, but that won’t stop him from participating in the club’s voluntary OTAs. 

[RELATED: Vikings Tried, Failed To Land Trent Williams] 

This could be a sign that things are trending in the right direction between the Vikes and their starting running back. Or, it could just mean that things are, generally, in a good place between the player and the club. Typically, players seeking new contracts are skittish about offseason activities because of the injury risk involved. Obviously, there’s no risk of injury when the OTAs consist of Zoom meetings.

So far, Cook and the Vikings have been on the same page.

“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.” 

Last year, Cook ran for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also added another 519 yards through the air, giving him more than 1,600 all-purpose yards on the year. Meanwhile, he’s slated to earn a base salary of just $1.33MM in 2020.

The Florida State product fell to the second round in 2017, which means that the Vikings do not have the luxury of the fifth-year option. There’s a sense of urgency on both sides here – Cook wants security and the Vikings, ideally, would like to keep Cook under control at a reasonable rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Scherff, Cook, Winston, Giants

As of right now, Brandon Scherff is set to play next season under the franchise tag. However, the three-time Pro Bowler is confident he’ll sign an extension with the Redskins.

“It’s gone well,” Scherff said of the negotiations (via Kyle Stackpole of Redskins.com). “Just pretty much sat down and talked to my agent — that’s what he’s there for — and I want to sign a long-term deal with them, too. I love it there, and I’ve always said I wanted to be a Redskin for the rest of my career. So, hopefully we can work towards that.”

After becoming the first guard to receive the franchise tag since 2011, Scherff signed his franchise tender relatively quickly. He’s set to make $14.8MM in 2020 under the tag.

Since being selected with the fifth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, Scherff has started all 65 of his regular season appearances. However, he’s been limited to only 19 games over the past two years thanks to a pair of IR trips.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Running back Dalvin Cook and the Vikings are also in the midst of extension talks, and the 24-year-old has made it clear that he wants to stick in Minnesota. “I definitely love Minnesota,” Cook told Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. “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.”  After compiling 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns last season, Cook is set to make a base salary of $1.33MM next season.
  • Jameis Winston isn’t a bust, says the GM who drafted him. While the Buccaneers were eager to replace the former first-overall pick with a soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback, Jason Licht is still optimistic about Winston’s future in the NFL. “We have a lot of respect for Jameis,” the executive told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “Jameis was still part of our plan if things went a different route. We’ve got a lot of respect for him. I thought he did a lot of great things, and anybody in our office or building would say the same thing. He did some spectacular things for us. I would never say that, personally — and I think I speak on behalf of the organization — that he’s a bust. I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him.” Last season, Winston led the league in passing yards (5,109) and interceptions (30).
  • The Giants “love” Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs, reports Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. While the front office has been infatuated with him since well before the combine, there are some who believe the Giants still won’t take him with the fourth-overall pick. In fact, some sources told Vacchiano that they believe the Giants will opt for another lineman in Alabama’s Jedrick Wills or Louisville’s Mekhi Becton.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Okudah, Foles

The Lions will have a major impact on how the quarterback dominoes fall in this year’s draft. Although they are unlikely to select a rookie signal-caller themselves with the No. 3 overall pick, they have long been rumored as a team that could trade down with another club that has a bigger QB need. And if standout Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young is off the board by the time Detroit is on the clock, Albert Breer of SI.com says the Lions will indeed be open for business, as they could move down to the No. 5 or No. 6 pick and still pick up an elite defender like Jeff OkudahIsaiah Simmons, or Derrick Brown.

However, both Breer and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News believe the Lions’ preference among the non-Young defenders is Okudah, who may be gone if Detroit trades back, and Rogers does not see an immediate fit for Simmons in the club’s defense. So unless the Lions are blown away by an offer, they could stand pat and select one of Young or Okudah.

Now for more from the NFC North:

  • New Bears quarterback Nick Foles restructured his contract after being traded to Chicago from Jacksonville, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com passes along a few more details on the restructure (Twitter link). Foles will earn $8MM in base salary over each of the three remaining years on his contract for a total of $24MM in salary, $21MM of which is guaranteed. Each of those three seasons also comes with an additional $6MM in available incentives, and for every dollar of incentives that Foles earns, his base salary for the following year increases (so if he earns $3MM of incentives in 2020, his salary in 2021 will increase from $8MM to $11MM).
  • As we heard previously, Foles will have the opportunity to void the 2021 or 2022 seasons if he meets certain performance thresholds, so as Rapoport notes in a separate tweet, the former Super Bowl MVP has landed jelly-side up despite a disappointing 2019 season with the Jags. He was paid $30MM for his one year in Jacksonville, keeps the guaranteed money from his Jaguars contract, and has the opportunity to hit free agency as soon as next year if he performs well with the Bears.
  • The Vikings have managed to carve out some salary cap space for themselves this offseason, and after setting aside the funds necessary to sign their 2020 draft class, they have about $8.4MM of space still available, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Tomasson says that the team is continuing to look at veteran cornerbacks, which makes sense given the mass CB exodus that Minnesota witnessed last month. Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan are among the top corners still available.
  • Tomasson adds that the Vikings are still looking into a Dalvin Cook extension, which echoes his report from several weeks ago.

Dalvin Cook, Vikings Have Talked Extension

A handful of running backs have landed huge new contracts in recent years, and several of those teams have come to regret those deals. It’ll be very interesting to see what the next crop of running backs get, and a good test case will be Dalvin Cook. Cook is extension eligible, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that extension talks have taken place between Cook and the Vikings. 

Sources told Tomasson that talks will “ramp up” after free agency dies down. We heard back in January that the Vikings were prepared to keep him in the fold, and it sounds like things are starting to move in that direction. The 41st pick of the 2017 draft, Cook will be playing out the final year of his rookie deal in 2020.

The Florida State product made an instant splash as a rookie, bursting onto the scene with an impressive first few games and 122 rushing yards in his pro debut. Unfortunately his first campaign was cut short, as he tore an ACL in Week 4. In 2018 he wasn’t quite the same as he dealt with nagging hamstring injuries, carrying the ball only 133 times in 11 games.

He bounced back in a big way this past season, racking up 1,135 yards on the ground and another 519 through the air in only 14 games while scoring 13 touchdowns. The Vikings have been active this week, trading away Stefon Diggs and locking up Kirk Cousins with an extension. While they might not be looking to break the bank, it sounds like Cook is in their long-term plans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Rumors: Cook, Colquitt, Jones

Like many teams with a top-flight running back, the Vikings are in a bit of a quandary when it comes to a potential extension for Dalvin Cook. Cook has been susceptible to injury throughout his young career, but after a breakout 2019 that saw him rack up 1,135 yards and 13 TDs for the run-first Minnesota offense, we heard that the team would explore an extension for him this offseason.

Cook, 24, is now eligible for a new contract since he has three years of service time, and the $1.3MM he is due to make in 2020 — the last year of his rookie deal — is a pittance relative to his value. Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com details the pros and cons of a Cook re-up, but it sounds like GM Rick Spielman wants to keep the 2017 second-rounder in the fold for the long haul.

“Right now, we have so much ahead of us and a lot of decisions to make before free agency begins and the new league year begins, and then we look at the draft once we settle down and everything,” Spielman said. “But I consider Dalvin as one of those core group of players that we definitely want to try to keep.”

Negotiations could get complicated, but expect the Vikings to start talking with Cook’s reps not long after the draft.

Now for more out of Minnesota:

  • Punter Britton Colquitt expects to re-sign with the Vikings, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Colquitt turned in a strong performance in 2019, his first year with Minnesota, and the Vikes — who have deployed four punters in the past four seasons — are seeking stability. It sounds as if the two sides are close on a three-year deal that would pay Colquitt between $2-3MM per season.
  • The Vikings are interested in re-signing right tackle Rashod Hill, per Cronin (via Twitter). Hill, a former UDFA, is eligible for unrestricted free agency, but Minnesota values his contributions as a swing tackle and his abilities in pass protection. It will be interesting to see if a RT-needy team on a budget takes a flier on Hill as a potential starter.
  • The Vikings also want to keep center Brett Jones, as Tomasson tweets. Jones started 13 games as recently as 2017, when he was a member of the Giants, and Minnesota acquired him via trade with New York in August 2018. He started the first three games of the 2018 season but was displaced by Pat Elflein, who was returning from injury, and when the Vikings selected Garrett Bradbury in the first round of the 2019 draft, Jones was again relegated to a reserve role. He was actually cut in September to make room for Josh Doctson, and though he re-signed shortly thereafter, he appeared in just two games and was ultimately put on IR. Per Tomasson, Jones wants to test the market in search of a shot at a starting job.

Vikings To Begin Dalvin Cook Re-Up Talks

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 ElliottTodd 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.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Cook, Bears

Having dealt with back trouble for two years, Matthew Stafford missed half of this season with fractures in his back. He will not undergo surgery and expects to be back in time for the start of the Lions‘ offseason program in April. Last season, Stafford played through a transverse process fracture in his back. This will be OC Darrell Bevell‘s second year in Detroit, so Stafford’s participation in the upcoming offseason program will not be as critical as last season’s attendance. Still, Detroit’s soon-to-be 32-year-old passer appears on the way back.

Oh yeah, I’ll be good to go,” Stafford said, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “I feel really good, which is good. I’ve had quite a bit of rest, obviously. I think I’ll be feeling really, really good pretty darn soon, to tell you the truth.”

Shifting first to one of the division’s teams still playing, here is the latest out of the NFC North:

  • The Vikings‘ plan to sit Dalvin Cook (shoulder, chest) for the final two regular-season games looks to have paid off. Minnesota’s Pro Bowl back took part in a full practice Wednesday, putting him in line to suit up for the Vikings’ first-round game against the Saints. Alexander Mattison (ankle) was also a full participant, giving Minnesota a good chance of having the best version of its backfield in action Sunday in New Orleans.
  • The Bears quickly identified their next offensive line coach. A day after firing previous O-line instructor Harry Hiestand, Chicago will hire Juan Castillo to replace him, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Castillo’s most recent role was with Buffalo, where he served as the Bills’ O-line coach from 2017-18, but he was on the Eagles’ staff for each of Andy Reid’s 14 years in Philadelphia. Nagy broke into coaching during those years, spending time on Reid’s final five Philly staffs. The Bears ranked 29th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards metric, with their offensive front frequently struggling to open running lanes.
  • Back to the Lions, they have starting guard Graham Glasgow set for free agency. The team moved Glasgow back to guard after he’d started at center in 2018, but this season’s Lions featured a three-guard rotation. That may or may not impact Glasgow’s offseason decision; he was non-committal about a desire to stay in Detroit. “It’s been a long year and I’d like to feel like — I’d like to kind of feel like I’m wanted, sort of,” Glasgow said, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “So, yeah. It’s been — it’s just been a long year. And ideally, I’d like to — we kind of need to talk about it.” Glasgow started 58 games with the Lions from 2016-19 and graded well, in the view of Pro Football Focus, this past season. With the guard market gravitating toward sellers in recent years, Glasgow could be in for a nice payday in March.

Latest On Dalvin Cook’s Status

Dalvin Cook‘s shoulder injury will likely shelve him for the biggest game of the Vikings’ regular season. The third-year running back is unlikely to play against the Packers on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes.

The Vikings have now confirmed Cook will miss Week 16, and Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com adds the team is considering shelving its Pro Bowl back for the rest of the regular season in order to have him healthier for the playoffs. Minnesota can clinch a playoff spot with a Monday win, but with the Vikings holding a two-game lead on the Rams for the NFC’s No. 6 seed, Football Outsiders gives them a 98.2% chance to qualify.

Mike Zimmer said Cook was “doing good,” and the Vikings’ 1,000-yard rusher indicated he would play if sufficiently healthy (Twitter links via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Cook has not missed a game this season but certainly has an injury history of note. An ACL tear ended Cook’s rookie season, and multiple hamstring setbacks limited him to 11 games last year. Cook initially injured his shoulder in Week 11.

Neither Cook nor backup Alexander Mattison practiced Wednesday. The latter missed Week 15 with an ankle injury, leaving second-year UDFA Mike Boone in command of the backfield. The Vikings gave Mattison a questionable designation for Monday’s game.

Prior to Sunday’s win, Boone had previously logged just eight carries this season. He rushed for two touchdowns against the Chargers. The Vikings also have Ameer Abdullah (13 carries this season) and C.J. Ham (five) as potential ball-carrying options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Cook, Mack, Staley, Ford, Kendricks

All the latest injury updates as we await kickoff in the morning:

  • Vikings fans were left holding their breath on Monday night, when Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook went down with injuries on the same play. Diggs soon returned to the game, and it looks like Cook is alright as well. The star running back aggravated a pre-existing injury during Minnesota’s loss to Seattle, but he was removed from the final injury report on Friday and is all systems go for Sunday’s game against the Lions. It’s still possible the Vikings seek to lessen his workload, in which case promising backup Alexander Mattison would pick up the slack.
  • Speaking of banged up running backs, the Colts’ Marlon Mack got back to a full practice and will make his return Sunday against the Bucs. Mack has missed the past two games with a hand injury, and Indianapolis could really use him as they’ve lost four of their past five games. Mack had minor surgery on his hand a few weeks back.
  • Joe Staley is returning from injury for the second time this season. The 49ers’ left tackle has missed nine games this year due to various ailments, but is returning for this weekend’s pivotal game against the Saints. San Francisco has obviously been getting by just fine without him, but his presence will be a huge boost as they go up against a really tough New Orleans defensive front. Staley isn’t the only key piece the 49ers are getting back, as pass-rusher Dee Ford will also make his return to the lineup. Ford, who signed a massive five-year, $85MM deal with his new team after getting traded from the Chiefs, has missed each of the past two games with a quad injury.
  • The Seahawks’ defense looks like it’ll be a bit shorthanded, as Mychal Kendricks is being listed as doubtful for their Sunday Night Football game against the Rams. This will be the linebacker’s first missed game of the season, and he has started all 12 for Seattle. Rookie third-round pick Cody Barton could get his first career start as a result, tweets Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.

North Notes: Vikings, Conner, JuJu, Lions

The 2017 draft class will become extension-eligible in January, and Dalvin Cook‘s contract figures to be one the key talking points once the calendar flips to the 2020 offseason. The Vikings are one of the few teams to have paid a running back top-market money, via Adrian Peterson‘s $14.4MM-AAV pact from 2011. With Cook’s contract not containing a fifth-year option like Christian McCaffrey‘s does, the Vikings will likely have to address his deal sooner than the Panthers will need to negotiate with their All-Pro candidate. Ezekiel Elliott‘s $15MM-per-year deal represents the new running back benchmark. Although Cook has been injury-prone, he will surely seek a contract in the Elliott-Todd GurleyLe’Veon BellDavid Johnson tax bracket (north of $13MM annually).

Running backs are valuable,” Cook said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin. “For guys to get rewarded for how physical, how much they get their bodies ready each and every week to go take that pounding, guys [are] getting rewarded for that. The running back value kind of went down, but I think we’re just as valuable as any position.”

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Adam Thielen will not play Sunday night. The Vikings ruled out their highest-paid wide receiver for Week 10’s Cowboys contest. Thielen has dealt with this hamstring injury since Week 7, missing Minnesota’s game against the Redskins and exiting last week’s Chiefs game after seven snaps.
  • One of Cook’s 2017 draft classmates, James Conner, will also need at least another week to recover from injury. The Steelers ruled out Conner for Week 10. They also added JuJu Smith-Schuster to this week’s injury report Friday. Pittsburgh’s top wideout is questionable to face the Rams with a toe injury.
  • Lions safety Miles Killebrew suffered a concussion during Thursday’s practice, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. The Lions moved Killebrew to linebacker last year, but the trade of Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker‘s knee injury prompted the team to shift Killebrew back to safety recently. UFA addition Tavon Wilson, third-round rookie Will Harris and rookie UDFA C.J. Moore are the Lions’ only healthy safeties. Killebrew and Walker are out for Sunday’s Bears tilt
  • The Lions’ two-year extension for Christian Jones features a short-term sacrifice for a 2020 payment. The deal reduces the linebacker’s 2019 salary from $2.45MM to the veteran minimum, which will be worth approximately $426K for the season’s remainder. In exchange, Jones will receive a $1.97MM signing bonus, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets. The through-2021 deal averages $2.92MM. Detroit tacked on a voidable 2022 year, in order to spread the bonus across three seasons instead of two.