Like most players on the team’s offense, Jets running back Dalvin Cook is slogging through a disappointing 2023 campaign. In 11 games, he has recorded just 50 carries and is averaging a meager 3.2 yards per carry, which is by far a career-worst mark.
For what it’s worth, Cook was not hoping to be traded at the deadline — it sounds as if he did not generate much interest anyway — and will not ask for his release or for more carries, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. Although Cook presumably would prefer to catch on with a legitimate contender and would likely clear waivers and become a free agent if the Jets were to cut him, he says that his family has settled in New Jersey.
That said, he is frustrated about his usage. “For any guy that has produced in this league, it’s frustrating,” Cook said. “You want to be productive. I was hoping just to be in the right situation for me. Like I said, I want an opportunity. I feel great. My body is ready to roll. I was just hoping for a great opportunity.”
Cimini points out that Cook, who saw just one carry last week and two the week before, has at least looked more like his old self of late (41 yards on his last seven totes), and that it may make sense to give him a larger role in light of RB1 Breece Hall‘s struggles. Hall (hamstring) and Cook (shoulder) were both dealing with injuries in advance of today’s game against the Falcons, but both are active.
And as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported (video link), the plan was for Cook, who has been “looking better and better in practice,” to see a heavier workload against Atlanta and perhaps to get more carries than he has all season (the 13 carries Cook received in Week 1 represent a season-high). As of the time of this writing, Hall has four carries for two yards in the Falcons matcup, while Cook has three carries for 22 yards.
Barring a late-season explosion, Cook will likely not match the $7MM salary he is earning from the Jets this year on his next contract. The 28-year-old nonetheless has a chance to prove that he is still capable of playing at the level he established during his lengthy tenure with the Vikings — he earned a Pro Bowl nod for four straight seasons from 2019-22 — and to make himself more attractive to RB-needy clubs.
Dianna Russini of The Athletic has been especially prolific with respect to trade deadline reporting. As we approach the October 31 cutoff, here are a few of Russini’s latest updates from around the league (subscription required):
Broncos wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy have once again featured prominently in this year’s trade rumors. However, a deal has never felt imminent, and none of the current offers that Denver has received have come close to the club’s asking price. One general manager who has spoken with the Broncos told Russini that the team is not “selling cheaply.” Russini confirms previous reports indicating that cornerback Patrick Surtain is not available, despite understandable outside interest in his services.
We heard yesterday that the Billscould be looking to move 2022 first-rounder Kaiir Elam, and Russini reports that Buffalo is looking into cornerback additions. She does not say so specifically, but it could be that the Bills are looking for a replacement for Elam, who has not yet lived up to his draft status.
Rich Cimini of ESPN.com confirms that Jets GM Joe Douglas is willing to move running back Dalvin Cook and edge defender Carl Lawson, especially after both players recently expressed frustration with their current roles. Unsurprisingly, though, Russini reports that Douglas is not getting many calls on either player. Lawson is a healthy scratch for today’s game against the Giants.
Echoing her report from earlier this month, Russini writes that the Cardinals are still not looking to trade wideout Marquise Brown, even though they have received trade interest in the contract-year speedster.
They might be low on cap space, and they might have already made one significant trade acquisition in safety Kevin Byard, but Russini says the Eagles are still looking to buy and are interested in a linebacker. The 49ers are also working the phones and have interest in an edge rusher and a cornerback.
Unlike the Eagles and Niners, the Chiefs, Falcons, and Texans are among the clubs that are expected to stand down at the deadline.
While veteran additions highlighted the Jets’ offseason plan, their Aaron Rodgers-centered blueprint quickly changed. Although the future Hall of Fame quarterback has not given up hope of returning late this season and is under contract through 2024, some of the vets the Jets eyed as complementary pieces this year do not presently possess notable roles.
“It’s something I can’t control, that my name is being floated around in trade rumors,” Cook said, via Cimini. “It might be a good thing. Maybe [it’s] a bad thing.”
The Vikings attempted to trade Cook for weeks before releasing him in May. The Dolphins had discussed a trade with the Vikings, but Cook ended up spending several weeks in free agency. Connected to Miami and New England, Cook instead ended up in New York, with Rodgers playing a key part in bringing the former Pro Bowler to town. Cook, who is tied to a one-year deal worth $7MM, entered the season as the only back who had surpassed 1,100 rushing yards in each of the past four seasons. Through six Jets games, he has 109 yards on 39 carries. Breece Hall‘s return from an October 2022 ACL tear has marginalized Cook, whose 2.8-yard average ranks last out of qualified backs this season.
Cook said he expected more responsibilities with the Jets, per Cimini. After an 11-touch Week 4, Cook has combined for 16 over the past three games. Of course, Cook’s performance will not make him an appealing trade piece. Austin Ekeler pushed for a Chargers exit this year and was not believed to have generated much interest. Derrick Henry‘s name has resurfaced in pre-deadline rumors, but teams appear to be angling for the Titans to eat a chunk of his salary. Even with Cook not being attached to the lucrative Vikes contract, his production would not stand to generate much trade interest.
The Jets are still giving Cook reps; Carl Lawson was a healthy scratch in Week 5. The Jets have gone from giving the ex-Bengal a three-year, $45MM contract ahead of Robert Saleh‘s first season to burying the former big-ticket free agent on their defensive line depth chart. Connected to trade rumors along with Hardman last week, Lawson confirmed he would be interested in being dealt to a team that would use him more frequently.
“I definitely want to play and contribute. I know I can; I’ve proven that,” Lawson said. “Yeah, I always want to contribute, but right now I’m with the Jets, but I definitely want to play more. I definitely want to do what I did last year. … I’m a football player, not a cheerleader.”
Lawson, 28, accepted a pay cut this offseason but is still attached to a $6MM salary. The Jets turning him from starter to bench stash has also obviously dented his trade appeal. Lawson’s seven sacks and 24 QB hits played a major role in helping the Jets go from 32nd to fourth in scoring defense last season. Now two years removed from the Achilles tear that wiped out his 2021 season, the former third-round pick has not factored in prominently thus far this year. This surprising contract-year demotion also stands to impact his 2024 free agency value.
Looming as a franchise tag candidate in Cincinnati two years ago, Lawson has seen his career hit a crossroads. He will have a much better chance of earning another noteworthy contract next year than Cook will, but the Jets will likely continue to see if any trade materializes for either first.
Lawson joined the Jets on a three-year, $45MM deal in March 2021, but he missed all of the 2021 season due to an Achilles tear he sustained in August of that year. He bounced back to start all 17 of the club’s games in 2022, recording 24 quarterback hits and seven sacks. He also earned a strong 72.8 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus, though his 48.8 run defense grade left much to be desired.
The 28-year-old missed most of this year’s training camp due to back tightness, which also kept him out of the regular season opener. While he suited up for each of the next three contests, he did not appear in more than 23 snaps in any of them and was a healthy scratch in Week 5. It appears that he will not play a significant role on the defense moving forward, and he has become a trade candidate as a result.
Though he has never produced double-digit sacks in a single season, Lawson does have a track record as a useful pass rusher, and he will likely generate interest from other clubs. Further helping the Jets’ cause is the fact that Lawson agreed to a pay cut in May, making his contract easier to absorb. As he is in a platform season, however, New York’s return will naturally be limited.
Cook, meanwhile, joined the Jets in August in the hopes that he would become another high-profile weapon on an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. The longtime Viking has not yet played to his Pro Bowl potential and has accumulated just 97 rushing yards on 36 carries (good for a meager 2.7 yards-per-carry average). He has added eight catches for 44 yards.
Since second-year pro Breece Hall has looked just as explosive as he did before a torn ACL ended his rookie season prematurely, the Jets could be inclined to recover some draft pick compensation for their Cook investment. That would presumably lead to more work for Michael Carter — who played a prominent role in Gang Green’s backfield in each of the past two seasons — and fifth-round rookie Israel Abanikanda.
Dalvin Cook‘s contract with the Jets was reported as a $7MM pact with $8.6MM upside. We’ve now got specific details on the contract from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, and if Cook is hoping to cash in, he’ll need to stay active and productive.
As Florio details, $5.92MM of Cook’s contract is tied to him not being on the reserve/suspended list, protecting the organization in case the running back faces NFL punishment stemming from a domestic violence lawsuit. As Florio plainly explains it, the Jets can save more than $400K for each game that Cook misses due to suspension.
Specifically, the $8.6MM upside includes $1.2MM in per-game bonuses (~$70K per game) and $4.72MM in 53-man roster bonuses (~$277K per week). That latter total is paid out as long as Cook is on the 53-man roster (regardless of whether he’s active or inactive), injured reserve, or the physical unable to perform list. That $4.72MM amount is also guaranteed if Cook is released by the organization, although the hypothetical guaranteed money would be void if the running back is suspended.
For what it’s worth, head coach Robert Saleh didn’t sound all that worried about a suspension for his new running back.
“No, we’re not concerned,” Saleh said (via ESPN’s Rich Cimini on Twitter). “We will see how all of that stuff goes, but at this moment we are not concerned.”
Cook doesn’t only have to remain on the roster in order to earn his maximum contract, as $1.6MM is tied to incentives. The RB can earn $400K for topping 1,250 yards from scrimmage and another $400K for eclipsing 1,500 yards from scrimmage. If Cook hits that 1,250-yard mark, he can earn an additional $205K for each playoff win. Total that all up (the $5.92MM in roster bonuses coupled with Cook’s guaranteed $1.08MM base salary), and that results in Cook’s $8.6MM deal.
Although their interest in Dalvin Cookappeared to cool early in the long-running sweepstakes, the Broncos did keep tabs on the high-profile free agent. The team continued to look into Cook, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). Cook has since signed a one-year, $7MM Jets deal. While Pelissero adds the Broncos may look to add another back to a group headlined by Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, the team is sorting through some options behind the veterans. Second-year back Tyler Badie, rookie UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin and ex-Sean Payton Saints charge Tony Jones Jr. are vying for Denver’s RB3 job presently.
Here is the latest from the AFC West:
The Raiders took a few fliers at cornerback in free agency, signing Duke Shelley and David Long and reuniting with Brandon Facyson. None of the trio looks likely to start. Instead, fourth-round pick Jakorian Bennett looks to have leapfrogged them. Shelley and Long have fallen out of the mix to start, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashaun Reed, who project Bennett to start alongside Marcus Peters and Nate Hobbs (subscription required). Both Long and Facyson have missed time due to injury in camp. The Raiders chose Bennett 104th overall, which would make a Week 1 starting assignment notable. But the Silver and Black, who let Rock Ya-Sin walk (to replace Peters in Baltimore), came into the offseason with major questions at corner.
The Bolts are fairly set at receiver, with Quentin Johnstonand Derius Davis‘ Fort Worth-to-Los Angeles treks giving the team five locks at the position. In addition to the TCU alums, Josh Palmer has made strides in his third training camp. This looked to put Jalen Guyton and John Hightower to a battle for the final spot, Popper adds. But both players are dealing with injuries. After a strong start to camp, Hightower — a 2020 Eagles draftee who has not caught a pass since his rookie year — suffered an injury and has not practiced in a week. Guyton, who suffered an ACL tear in Week 3 of last season, remains on the Bolts’ active/PUP list. Stashing the deep threat on the reserve/PUP list to start the season is looking likely, per Popper.
K’Waun Williams is expected to be the Broncos‘ slot corner for a second season, but an ankle injury has sidelined him for over a week. The veteran slot defender sought a second opinion on the injury recently, per 9News’ Mike Klis, who notes surgery is not on the docket at this point. A rest-and-rehab operation will be utilized to have Williams ready for Week 1, though this becomes a situation to monitor for a Broncos team that remains without third-round corner Riley Moss. Essang Bassey filled in for Williams as the top nickel in Denver’s preseason opener.
Davis Webb resides in the strange position of being a 28-year-old quarterbacks coach tasked with helping a decorated 34-year-old passer bounce back. But Russell Wilson‘s position coach has been on the coaching radar for a bit now, despite only retiring this year. After the Bills wanted him to be their QBs coach last year, Sean McDermott, Brian Daboll and Eli Manning endorsed Webb to Payton, Jori Epstein of Yahoo.com notes. Webb “blew away” Broncos brass in his interview, per GM George Paton. His final season — as a Giants third-stringer — involved scouting and coaching, Epstein adds, making this an easier transition than it would appear.
This wraps a long-running saga for Cook, who has been a free agent for several weeks now. The Jets had loomed as a Cook suitor for most of this span, and while the former Vikings Pro Bowler had been closely connected to his hometown Dolphins, the Jets were the only team to bring him in for a visit. That meeting has eventually produced a deal.
In terms of base value, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio adds this agreement will be worth $7MM (Twitter link). The contract will be worth a maximum of $8.6MM, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets. Midway through the Jets’ preseason slate, Cook will sign on with the rising team. Aaron Rodgers‘ pay-cut agreement will lead to a high-profile weapon signing on, with the Jets securing an elite Breece Hall insurance option.
Even though the Dolphins were the only known team to discuss a Cook trade with the Vikings, they are standing down. Additionally, the chance to face the Bills twice was also important to the veteran, per Fowler, with younger brother James Cook set to start for the three-time defending division champs.
The Jets have been bullish on Hall’s chances of returning by Week 1, and the New York Post’s Brian Costello notes this Cook addition does not reflect a change in that stance. Hall is still on track for the opener (Twitter link). The 2022 second-rounder suffered an ACL tear during the Jets’ Week 7 win against the Broncos. Cook’s arrival will allow the Jets to slow-play Hall’s return, and it is also worth wondering what kind of rotation will form during the Iowa State product’s first season back from the injury. Cook’s contract points to a regular role, as opposed to a change-of-pace backup, in his seventh NFL season.
Cook’s deal represents a rare 2023 win for backs. Coming after countless setbacks for the RB market, Cook securing $7MM in base value provides him with a parachute after the Vikings cut bait on his $12.6MM-per-year deal. Prior to Monday, none of this year’s free agent backs secured more than $6.3MM per year. While Miles Sanders did see more guaranteed — on a four-year Panthers agreement — the Jets are giving Cook upper-middle-class money on a one-year accord to help their 2023 Super Bowl push.
Going into his age-28 season, Cook is riding the NFL’s only active streak of four straight 1,100-yard rushing slates. He has also been an effective receiver at points, though the Vikings did not utilize him in this capacity consistently. The Vikings viewed the explosive back’s contract, which had been agreed to just before the 2020 season, as a luxury they could no longer afford. Minnesota instead re-signed Alexander Mattison to a two-year, $7MM deal that is almost entirely guaranteed. As the Vikings joined other NFL teams in skimping on RB costs, the Jets now have one of this era’s better backs supplementing a recent second-rounder.
While Cook is set to give the Jets a Hall security blanket, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes (via Twitter) he will not practice immediately. Cook underwent shoulder surgery — to fix an issue that had lingered for multiple seasons — in February. But the standout back has never been mentioned as a candidate to miss time because of the procedure. His signing delay and the additional time off needed will allow Cook to skip training camp. Though, it should be expected Cook will be the subject of a few Liev Schreiber-voiced sentences before this year’s Hard Knocks concludes.
The Jets would still have the option of placing Hall on the reserve/PUP list, which would allow him an onramp — in the form of a four-game absence — into his second season. That would be a bit of a surprise, though, even considering Cook’s $7MM payment. But after a highly publicized free agency stay, Cook has joined an expected contender and will have a chance to make an impact alongside Rodgers.
Texans minority owner Javier Loya has had his tenure with the organization put on hold in the wake of multiple sex crime charges being brought against him. Loya is facing one rape charge, along with five first-degree and one third-degree sexual abuse charge, as detailed by KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson.
The charges stem from incidents in May of 2022 in Kentucky. Loya, who is due to take part in a pretrial conference on August 22, has agreed to withdraw from all Texans activities until his case has been resolved. The NFL also confirmed in a statement that Loya has been removed from all league committees.
“Mr. Loya is innocent and has pled not guilty to all charges,” a statement from attorney Andrew Sarne reads. “He unequivocally and categorically denies these allegations and will vigorously defend his innocence. Mr. Loya has voluntarily taken and 100% passed a polygraph test which confirms his innocence and looks forward to being vindicated in court.”
Loya, 53, has been a limited partner with the Texans since their inaugural season in 2002. He faced a civil suit alleging sexual misconduct earlier this year, but it was withdrawn. If Loya is convicted on the rape charge, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Here are some other notes from around the NFL:
News of another contract extension for commissioner Roger Goodell first came out in March. That new deal, which will be three years in length and keep him in place through 2027, has been considered a certainty to be finalized throughout the offseason. A firm timeline for ratification has emerged; Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that owners are aiming to agree to the extension during the October league meetings in New York. Goodell has been at the helm of the NFL since 2006, and it is expected that the 64-year-old’s next deal will be his last.
Dalvin Cookhas generated plenty of headlines this offseason with his high-profile free agency, but his legal situation has also seen recent developments. The 28-year-old was cleared to proceed with a defamation counterclaim in court stemming from the ongoing allegation of assault, battery and false imprisonment made by Gracelyn Trimble. In an update on the situation, Rochelle Olson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the latter was offered a $1MM payout by Cook. The offer included the condition that Trimble send a letter to the NFL “absolving Cook of wrongdoing.” Trimble has already testified to the contrary, and court filings detailing the attempt to put the case (which began in November 2021) to rest via a settlement could strengthen her argument. Cook remains unsigned.
The NFL has updated its personal conduct policy in a way which gives the league wider authority with respect to issuing punishments in a number of situations. That includes adding sexual assault to the list of offenses which can receive heavy suspensions, as noted by the New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas. The alterations come in the wake of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watsonreceiving what was initially a six-game ban for sexual misconduct alleged by more than two dozen women. The suspension (which was ultimately upped to 11 games) was limited in part by the wording of the league’s previous policy and the precedents set by other violations. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds, meanwhile, that the new policy also gives the NFL the power to hand down discipline to players for violations which occurred before they entered the league. Incidents dating back to college, for example, will now fall under the scope of the league when investigations take place.
AUGUST 10: Outkick’s Armando Salguero notes that Cook and the Jets remain at an impasse financially. The gap between the parties could be as much as $3MM per year, he adds, which would explain the lack of traction on a deal sending him to New York. If Cook holds firm on his asking price, it will be interesting to monitor how willing the Jets will be to match it as time goes by, and if other suitors are prepared to step in if they are not.
AUGUST 9: Throughout the more recent stages of his free agent process, the Jets have been the team most closely connected to Dalvin Cook. A deal sending the veteran back to New York is still possible, but no other veterans at the position are on the team’s radar at the moment.
Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline notes that the Jets still “want to sign” the four-time Pro Bowler. Teams around the AFC East – with the exception of the Bills – have been linked to Cook, who has understandably remained patient while weighing his options. His only visit to date has been with the Jets, though, and he deemed the odds of his high-profile summit producing a deal as being “pretty high.”
The degree to which Cook touted his sit-down with the Jets publicly did not sit well with the team, although interest from other potential suitors has been relatively lackluster. The Miami native is seen by the Dolphins as a luxury add, despite the fact he would likely have an easier path to a starter’s role with his hometown team than with the Patriots or Jets, provided Breece Hallis indeed available in time for Week 1.
Cook is believed to be seeking guaranteed money over two years, which could complicate a Jets deal aimed at making him a high-end insurance policy in case Hall is activated later than expected or struggles to return to his pre-ACL tear form. Notably, however, Pauline adds that New York is not particularly interested in adding a veteran (other than Cook) to its backfield given the options already in place.
Aside from Hall, the Jets also have Michael Carterand former UDFA Zonovan Knight on the RB depth chart. The latter has impressed in training camp, per Pauline, after totaling 400 scrimmage yards on 98 touches last season. Fifth-round rookie Israel Abanikandahas also drawn praise, meaning the Jets can afford to remain patient with respect to negotiations with Cook. Interest still exists for a deal to be worked out on this front, however, and with more than $16MM in cap space, the Jets have the spending power to make a signficant commitment if one is required.
A number of notable names remain on the open market into August, especially at the running back position. The futures of both Ezekiel Elliottand Dalvin Cookremain uncertain, despite the overlapping interest shown in them in some cases.
Elliott has been available since his expected Cowboys release, but he has not seen much of a market after his career-worst performance in 2022. A reunion in Dallas has been floated on a number of occasions during the offseason, with owner Jerry Jones publicly keeping the door open to a deal at a highly reduced rate. The latest reports on the matter, however, pointed to Dallas focusing more on its younger options behind franchise-tagged starter Tony Pollard.
In spite of that, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes that the Cowboys are still in the running to re-acquire Elliott (subscription required). The team which appears more likely to sign the former rushing champion, though, remains the Patriots. New England hosted Elliott – after conversations between Bill Belichick and Stephen Jones – as one of several established backs they have kicked the tires on, and Howe reports the team is still “highly interested” in him. A agreement sending Elliott to New England would come as much less of a surprise than one with Cook.
The latter has been connected to every AFC East team except the Bills this offseason, including passing interest shown by the Patriots. Howe adds that New England is “almost certainly not going in that direction” with respect to signing the ex-Vikings starter. Cook’s only free agent visit to date has been with the Jets, a team which (like the Patriots) already has an established No. 1 option in the backfield.
The situation is different regarding the Dolphins, but they are not believed to view Cook, a Miami native, as a necessity. That could point Cook back in the direction of the Jets, a team which is in win-now mode as the Aaron Rodgersera is set to begin. Cook is thought to be looking for guaranteed money across two seasons, but no team has appeared enthusiastic about making such a commitment. Elliott, likewise, is unlikely to secure any long-term deal while being brought in to serve as a high-end backup.
Elliott’s and Cook’s fates are not doubt linked, and the RB dominoes will likely fall in quick succession once one makes a decision on their next landing spot. The Cowboys, Patriots and Jets are among the teams to watch closely, but there is still little clarity with respect to how willing those clubs, and others, are to make a sizeable commitment at the position.