MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Earlier this week, the Minnesota Vikings made official the trade that sent Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns for two future fifth-round draft picks.
Now, we wait to see what the Vikings do with running back Dalvin Cook. They may have recently tipped their hand that Cook might soon no longer be on the roster. If you go to their official Twitter account, Cook used to be one of the players featured on the header.
The 2023 Vikings now feature four players on their Twitter header: Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins, T.J. Hockenson and Alexander Mattison. No more Cook. That could be innocent, or telling that the Vikings are focusing on Mattison as their future in the backfield.
A 2019 third round pick out of Boise State, Mattison could’ve tested free agency for starting running back money, but came back to the Vikings on a two-year deal worth $7 million. In four seasons and 59 career games with the Vikings, Mattison has 1,670 rushing yards, is averaging more than four yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns.
In 2021 while Cook dealt with injuries, Mattison ran for 491 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games and four starts. It sure feels like Mattison could get his turn to be the Vikings’ No. 1 running back.
Cook ran for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games last year, his first fully-healthy season in Minnesota. He’s earned four straight trips to the Pro Bowl, and is due north of $14 million this season. It would cost the Vikings $8 million to cut him. He had $2 million of his 2023 salary become guaranteed back in mid-March.
We’re about a month away from the Vikings and Cook having to reach a resolution in some capacity. The Vikings host mandatory minicamp June 13-14, and players who don’t participate are subject to fines. Workouts to this point have been voluntary, and Cook has not been participating. The Vikings would prefer to find a trade partner to get something in return, rather than release him and suffer the dead money hit.
He said after the season that's a decision that's up to his representation, and the Vikings' front office. Kevin O'Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have said communication with Cook is ongoing.
"We’re trying to be solutions-oriented and always trying to put the roster together within our constraints. We’ll continue those conversations," Adofo-Mensah said earlier this offseason.
So what does the future hold for Cook? We’ll find out soon.