The one team known to have discussed a trade with the Vikings for Dalvin Cook is not believed to be out of the running for the Pro Bowl back. The Dolphins remain interested in bringing the veteran back to South Florida.
No trade is in place between the teams, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, but it is expected the Dolphins will have interest if the Vikings move on via release. A South Florida native who played at Florida State, Cook, 27, is also expected to view Miami as an appealing destination were he to be cut, Jackson adds.
Cook is tied to a five-year, $63MM extension — agreed to just before the 2020 season, during Rick Spielman‘s lengthy tenure as the Vikings’ front office boss — that calls for a $10.4MM 2023 base salary and a $14.1MM cap hit. Both figures are in the top four at running back this year. The Dolphins, understandably, would not be expected to give Cook a salary close to that number, Jackson adds.
Trade talks between the Vikings and Dolphins commenced in March, but with no deal coming to pass, Miami made a steady effort to establish backfield continuity. Ex-Mike McDaniel 49ers charges Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson re-signed, as did Myles Gaskin. Even after those signings, Cook stayed on Miami’s radar. But, after spending extensive time with Texas A&M prospect Devon Achane, the Dolphins drafted him in the third round. Miami did not spend much to retain Mostert and Wilson, signing them both to two-year deals that contain less than $3MM guaranteed apiece. Gaskin did not receive any guaranteed money.
Despite adding Wilson at the trade deadline, the Dolphins ranked 25th in rushing last season. Cook would undoubtedly upgrade Miami’s backfield — for 2023, at least — while giving the Dolphins a much deeper position group compared to the Vikings. Minnesota appears prepared to go with longtime Cook backup Alexander Mattison as its starter. That might represent a downgrade in terms of peak production, but it would come at a steep discount as well. Mattison signed a two-year, $7MM deal that is nearly fully guaranteed.
Just $2MM of Cook’s salary is locked in for this year, but since the former second-round pick is a vested veteran, the entire $10.4MM would become the Vikings’ responsibility if he is on their roster come Week 1. With that unlikely to happen, the question will be whether the Vikings move on via trade or release. (Cook agreeing to a pay cut and likely a role reduction to stay in Minnesota is not entirely off the table, either.) With the Dolphins seemingly the lead suitor, it would make sense for the team to wait for a release and pursue the seventh-year veteran in free agency.
With Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle still tied to rookie-deal salaries, Cook could fit in as a 2023 Dolphins hired gun. Tagovailoa’s pay spikes in 2024, thanks to the fifth-year option the Dolphins quickly exercised this offseason, and the team has Tyreek Hill tied to a receiver-record contract. For now, Hill’s $30MM-per-year deal is the only notable expense at the QB or skill spots in Miami. Though, Cedrick Wilson‘s $8MM-per-year contract remains on the books. The Dolphins are believed to be open to trading the ex-Cowboy, however. The team separated from 2022 franchise tag recipient Mike Gesicki in March.
Cook, who has four 1,100-yard rushing seasons on his resume, would be an interesting addition for one of the many contenders in a loaded AFC. For now, the Dolphins look to be interested observers in the Vikings’ decision-making at running back.