Dalvin Cook

Vikings Extend QB Kirk Cousins Through 2023

New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell wanted a chance to build an offense around quarterback Kirk Cousins. Well, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, he will get his chance as the Vikings will sign Cousins to a one-year, $35MM extension that will keep him in Minnesota through the 2023 NFL season. 

The Vikings reportedly had been receiving calls on Cousins, but the new coaching staff and general manager are declaring their commitment to the veteran quarterback and gaining some much needed cap space in the process.

Cousins’ scheduled cap hit for 2022 was set to be the largest in NFL history at $45MM. The extension reduces his 2022 cap number to $31.42MM, granting Minnesota a little over $13.5MM in cap space. In addition, Cousins will see a raise, making $40MM this season and $30MM in 2023. The deal includes phantom, voidable years in 2024 & 2025 that allow them to reduce the cap hits in ’22 and ’23.

Say what you will about Cousins pay and performance, but after receiving two consecutive franchise tags in Washington, a three-year fully-guaranteed contract to join the Vikings, and two fully-guaranteed extensions to stay in Minnesota, Cousins has secured eight-straight seasons of guaranteed contracts.

There are expectations for Cousins to thrive under O’Connell. With offensive weapons like running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, wide receivers Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn, and tight end Irv Smith Jr. all returning, the familiarity of personnel should make up for the new playbook. The bookends of the offensive line seem set with Christian Darrisaw showing promise after a delayed debut and Brian O’Neill making the Pro Bowl last year. There are some questions to be answered on the interior of the line, but the pieces, for the most part, are there.

The onus will now be on the coaching staff and front office to make offseason improvements to a defense that struggled mightily last year. The Vikings defense allowed the third-most yards in the league and the ninth-most points. If the new leaders in Minnesota can turn around that unit, look for Minnesota to make a play for a playoff spot and potentially even challenge the perennial NFC North power from Green Bay for the division.

Latest On Vikings’ Cap Situation

The Vikings are looking to reset their cap, and their quarterback could end up being a casualty. According to Jason La Canfora (via Twitter), the Vikings are “eager to move big contracts,” and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they end up moving on from Kirk Cousins.

With the Vikings changing regimes, the status of their four-year starting quarterback has understandably come up. Cousins carries the NFL’s third-highest 2022 cap hit at $45MM, and he’s going into a contract year. If the organization is truly looking to reset their books, it’d make sense to move on from the veteran QB. It would help the Vikings a bit if Cousins agreed to another extension, which would allow the team to reduce his 2022 cap hit. However, Cousins’ camp hasn’t been receptive to that idea.

La Canfora also mentions wideout Adam Thielen, linebacker Eric Kendricks, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and even running back Dalvin Cook as sizable cap hits that the organization could look to move on from. These four players and Cousins represent five of the team’s seven highest cap hits, joining defensive end Danielle Hunter and safety Harrison Smith.

The Vikings entered the offseason with one of the worst cap situations in the NFL, so it’s not surprising that the team is looking to move around some money. Per OverTheCap.com, the Vikings are currently $15MM over the cap, so moves are certainly coming.

Eight Georgia Bulldogs Declare For Draft

After wrapping of the 2021 football season with a National Championship win over the Crimson Tide, Georgia is ready to send a couple players to the NFL. So far, we’ve seen declarations from running backs Zamir White and James Cook, wide receiver George Pickens, offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, defensive linemen Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt, linebacker Nakobe Dean, and safety Lewis Cine.

White was a 5-star recruit out of North Carolina and the consensus top-ranked running back in the 2018 graduating class. White was forced to red-shirt his true freshman season after tearing his ACL, his second such injury in about 9 months. After healing, he took snaps behind D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien before taking over as the lead back in 2020 rushing for 1,635 yards and 22 touchdowns over the next two seasons. Dane Brugler, of The Athletic, has White ranked as the 7th-best running back in the class and he should expect to hear his name on Day 2 or 3 of the draft.

James Cook, the younger brother of Dalvin Cook, came into Georgia the same year as White but didn’t have to sit out his freshman year. Cook has sat just below White on the depth chart for the three years they were both active, racking up 1,031 rushing yards along with 10 touchdowns in the past two seasons. He is ranked the 5th-best running back on Brugler’s list and should also expect to hear his name in the middle rounds.

Pickens arrived at Georgia as a 5-star recruit after flipping from a commitment to Auburn. He led the team in receiving his freshman year with 727 yards and 8 touchdowns. He improved his yards per game average the next year but missed two games in an already shortened COVID-season. Pickens tore his ACL in March 2021 but returned to contribute to the Bulldogs’ National Championship run catching 2 passes for 61 yards in two playoff games. Brugler has Pickens as the 9th-best receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s expected that some team will take a flyer on the big-bodied receiver on Day 2 or early into Day 3.

Salyer was a 5-star recruit and the consensus top-ranked guard in the 2018 graduating class. Salyer saw his first start late in his sophomore year before securing his spot as the blindside starting tackle for the next two seasons. He missed a couple games with an injury this year, but he surrendered no sacks in eleven starts this year. Brugler has Salyer as the 7th-best interior offensive lineman and we should expect to hear his name on Day 2 or early into Day 3.

Walker came in as a 5-star recruit from west Georgia and dominated as soon as he arrived. Walker became an instant presence on the line with an elite get-off. After starting at defensive tackle for every game this season, Walker led the defensive line in sacks as an interior lineman with 6.0. Despite his size and placement in the Georgia defense, Brugler has Walker as the 4th-best edge rusher in the draft. Whether or not that’s where NFL teams see the junior Bulldog playing, he’s expected to hear his name called late in the first-round or early in the second.

Wyatt initially attended Hutchinson Community College to help meet the academic requirements needed to play Division I football. After transferring to Georgia, Wyatt rotated on the defensive line for two years before becoming a starter in 2020. Wyatt decided to use the extra year of eligibility, granted due to COVID-19, to come back for the 2021 season and it certainly paid off. Brugler has Wyatt as the 4th-best interior defensive lineman and he’s expected to be selected in the middle rounds of the draft.

Dean was a 5-star recruit and the consensus second-ranked inside linebacker in the 2019 graduating class. The much-ballyhooed linebacker made an immediate impact in his freshman year before nabbing the starting job for his entire sophomore and junior seasons. He culminated his final season not only with a National Championship trophy but also with the 2021 Butkus Award trophy given to the top linebacker in college football. He finished the season second on the team in tackles (behind fellow draft hopeful, Cine) and with the team lead in tackles for loss. Dean is the 2nd-best linebacker on Brugler’s list and is widely expected to go in the first round.

Cine was a Top-100 recruit in the 2019 graduating class. Cine played every game his freshman season before taking over as the starting safety for the next two seasons. Cine led the team in tackles for the season and made a few big plays to help the team clinch their National Championship. Brugler has Cine as the 3rd-best safety in the draft and he’s expected to hear his name called on Day 1 or early in Day 2 of the draft.

These eight aren’t the last Bulldogs expected to declare for the draft, either. Although no announcements have been made, defensive tackle, and winner of the 2021 Outland Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award, Jordan Davis, linebackers Channing Tindall and Quay Walker, and cornerback Derion Kendrick all are expected to be weighing their options and could set their sights on the NFL.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Vikings Move Dalvin Cook To Reserve/COVID-19 List

Another playoff contender will be without a key weapon in Week 16. The Vikings placed Dalvin Cook on their reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

This will sideline the Pro Bowl running back for Sunday’s game against the Rams, with the door open to a Week 17 absence against the Packers. This news points to Alexander Mattison starting in the backfield. The third-year Cook backup tested positive for the coronavirus last week but was activated Wednesday.

Cook’s virus-list placement adds another Pro Bowler this week, following the likes of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and J.C. Tretter. While the Chiefs are uncertain about their skill-position stars’ availability, the Vikings are certain to be without Cook. He is unvaccinated, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. That requires a 10-day isolation period, which will keep Cook out of practice ahead of Minnesota’s Week 17 matchup against Green Bay. Cook tested positive, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He is out 10 days.

The Vikings have seen Mattison play well in Cook’s stead during his three-year tenure. They will count on another strong performance in a pivotal matchup. Mattison has two 100-yard rushing games and another 90-yarder in three starts. The former third-round pick is, however, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry; Cook exited Week 15 at 4.7.

Cook is two games removed from a 200-yard performance against the Steelers, and he earned his third straight Pro Bowl nod on Wednesday. The fifth-year standout has gained 1,067 rushing yards, doing so in just 11 games during a season in which he has missed more time due to injury. This virus positive will run Cook’s absence count to four games this year.

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook To Play Tonight

Dalvin Cook will be in uniform when the Vikings take on the Steelers tonight. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Pro Bowl running back will play tonight vs. Pittsburgh. Cook will wear a shoulder harness, and he’s expected to see a normal workload.

As Schefter points out, Cook previously played with a shoulder harness during a 2020 wild-card game against the Saints. In that game, he collected 130 yards and two touchdowns on 31 touches.

Cook was expected to to miss two games due to a labrum tear and shoulder dislocation, but the running back seemed to be progressing in the right direction throughout the week. After sitting out Week 13, Cook passed all necessary tasks and took first-team reps at practice this week. The 26-year-old has also regained full range of motion in his shoulder.

The Vikings could have kept Cook out of the lineup and provided the RB with an extra 11 days of rest between now and their MNF game in Week 15. However, with the team clinging to wild-card hopes, the organization is obviously prioritizing winning. Minnesota’s recent loss in Detroit bumped the team down to 5-7, and the Vikings will already be without Adam Thielen tonight. The team ruled out the veteran wide receiver, who is battling a high ankle sprain.

A Pro Bowler in each of the past two years, Cook is in the first season of a five-year, $63MM extension. He has missed three games this season, leading to high-end backup Alexander Mattison making starts.

Dalvin Cook On Track To Return In Week 14

Although the Vikings had planned for Dalvin Cook to miss two games due to a labrum tear and shoulder dislocation, the Pro Bowl running back has a decent chance of being in uniform Thursday night.

Cook has progressed to the point where he is trending toward playing, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes, adding that the fifth-year back took first-team reps and has regained his range of motion (Twitter links). Cook has already passed necessary tests to make a return, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets, and will play barring a pregame setback.

This would obviously be big news for a Vikings team clinging to wild-card hopes. Minnesota’s loss in Detroit bumped the team down to 5-7, and the Vikings will already be without Adam Thielen tonight. The team ruled out the veteran wide receiver, who is battling a high ankle sprain.

A quick Cook return also serves as interesting due to the Vikes’ schedule. Were Minnesota to give Cook another week, he would have 11 more days to recover. The Vikings’ Week 15 game is on Monday, Dec. 20.

A Pro Bowler in each of the past two years, Cook is in the first season of a five-year, $63MM extension. He has missed three games this season, leading to high-end backup Alexander Mattison making starts. While Mattison could see more work than normal in his RB2 role, Cook is on track to beat his most recent injury timetable.

Latest On Vikings’ Dalvin Cook

8:03pm: Cook is expected to miss at least the next two games – against the Lions and Steelers – with an expected return against the Bears on Dec. 20, as reported by ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

5:07pm: It was reported earlier today that Dalvin Cook had been diagnosed with a torn labrum and shoulder dislocation that would sideline him for the next two games. This was good news as there was fear Cook may have to miss the rest of the season.

The news continues to improve as, according to Mike Zimmer, Cook is only “day-to-day.” Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press reports that when asked if Cook has a torn labrum, Zimmer replied, “No.” Asked about the dislocated shoulder and Zimmer answered, “I’m not going to say.” While this still leaves room for concern, Minnesota will be relieved to discover that the injury to its star running back doesn’t seem as serious as it originally appeared.

11:46am: Dalvin Cook has been diagnosed with a torn labrum and dislocation in his shoulder (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). However, it won’t be a season-ender for the Vikings running back. 

That’s excellent news given that Cook had to be carted off the field during Sunday’s game. Following the MRI, the Vikings believe that Cook can come back after a few games of rest, similar to how he managed to return towards the end of 2019. The plan is to hold him out of their next two games against the Lions and the Steelers. After that, if everything checks out, he’ll be able to face the Bears in Week 15 (Twitter link). Placing Cook on IR would automatically rule him out for three games, so the Vikings will probably keep him on the 53-man roster for the time being.

Clearly, the Vikings offense is at its best with a healthy and productive Cook. Last year, he enjoyed his second-straight Pro Bowl season with 1,557 rushing yards, 17 total touchdowns, and a 5.0 yards per carry average. It was also his second-straight 14-game slate, a big step up from his first two campaigns.

So far this year, Cook has 773 rushing yards and four touchdowns with a 4.5 yards per carry average. He’s also contributed as a pass-catcher with 27 grabs for 202 yards.

Without Cook, the Vikings will rely on Alexander Mattison to keep the chains moving. He’s made two starts in place of Cook so far this year, totaling 225 yards on the ground plus 13 catches for 99 yards.

Extra Points: Packers, Cook, OBJ

The NFL has finished their investigation into the Packers handling of COVID-19 protocols. The organization has been slapped with a $300K fine “for violations of the NFL and NFL Players Association protocols,” per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky (on Twitter). Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wideout Allen Lazard were also fined $14,650.

Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter), the two players were fined for attending a maskless Halloween party. The Packers’ organizational fine also stemmed from the party; while the gathering wasn’t organized by the team, the NFL believes the organization should have penalized each player. Otherwise, the NFL determined that the Packers complied to all protocols, with Garafolo noting that there was “no widespread or systemic mask-wearing violations.”

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Packers organization was notified that “future violations could result in escalated discipline,” including the potential loss of draft picks.

The league looked at footage taken at the team’s facility to assure that masks were being worn and protocols were being followed. The NFL also interviewed Packers personnel as part of the process.

More notes from around the NFL:bay

  • A woman filed a lawsuit accusing Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook of assault, battery and false imprisonment, per Schefter. Cook’s attorney said his client was the victim in the incident, adding that the woman also tried to extort millions of dollars from the player. According to the lawsuit, the woman traveled to Minnesota to break up with Cook, and the meeting soon turned violent. Cook is accused of causing a concussion and leaving a scar on the woman’s face. Cook’s side says the woman stole Cook’s garage door opener, broke into the player’s house, and maced him upon entering. Both the Vikings and the NFL acknowledged that they were aware of the lawsuit.
  • New Raiders wideout DeSean Jackson will receive $1MM for the rest of the season, according to Garafolo (via Twitter). If Jackson decides to file for termination pay, he’ll end up earning more than he would have by sticking around Los Angeles. Meanwhile, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia told reporters that he’s excited to see what Jackson can bring to the squad. “I think we all have a lot of respect for his career and what he’s done, and I can remember him coming out,” Bisaccia said (h/t to Myles Simmons of ProFootballTalk.com). “So, we are excited about getting another speed element out there to be a complement to what we are trying to do on offense, certainly with the speed that Zay [Jones] has and what Bryan [Edwards] and Hunter [Renfrow] bring to us. It will be good for us to get another speed element going on offense. We are excited about getting him to practice.”
  • Sam Darnold suffered a fractured scapula, and the Panthers QB will “most likely” miss several weeks, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). Darnold had one of his worst outings of the season on Sunday against the Patriots, completing only 48 percent of his passes while tossing three interceptions. P.J. Walker will likely get the starting nod with Darnold out of the lineup, although the team did add Matt Barkley earlier today.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. cleared waivers today, and the Browns will only be on the hook for $4.25MM, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. The two sides’ decision to rework the player’s contract ultimately saved the team around $3MM. Meanwhile, Garafolo notes that Beckham is considering both one-year deals and multi-year pacts.

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook Intends To Play Through Injury

After missing Week 3, Dalvin Cook returned to the field for Week 4 but struggled as he battled through an ankle injury. However, the Vikings running back isn’t intending to miss another game as he nurses the injury.

“I don’t feel like I’m getting worse,” Cook said (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). “I don’t feel like I’m headed in the wrong direction. I feel like I’m headed in the right direction to get myself back to where I need to be at. You have those days, but we just played a game. Just trying to work myself back to being 100% so I can help us win games.”

The running back has dealt with his a share of injuries throughout his career, missing a total of 21 regular season games through his first four seasons in the NFL. The Vikings are prioritizing his long-term health, and they naturally sat him out of practice late this week.

Cook had a hot start to the season, scoring two touchdowns in Week 1 and collecting 148 yards from scrimmage in Week 2. It was during that latter game that the running back suffered his ankle injury, forcing him out of the lineup for Week 3. He returned last weekend but collected only 44 yards on 11 touches.

Fortunately, if the Vikings star does miss another game, the team is set at the position. Backup Alexander Mattison rushed for 112 yards and added another 59 yards through the air in Week 3.