MINNEAPOLIS - He didn’t get to celebrate with a win, but Dalvin Cook entered U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday not having to worry about his long-term future with the Minnesota Vikings.
About 24 hours before opening the season, Cook signed a five-year contract extension worth a reported $63 million, including about $28 million guaranteed. Cook is one of the most important players in the Vikings’ offense, and he got his pay day and stability in Minnesota.
“Being in Minnesota was always important to me, the guys I’ve built relationships with. Just being around the guys in the locker room and everybody in Minnesota, I love being here so that was important for me to get that done,” Cook said Monday. “I can just go out and play football so that was important getting that done before the season so I could just turn it loose.”
Cook had 12 carries for 50 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 43-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers. His first score of the season gave the Vikings a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, and it was about the only offensive highlight in the first half as Minnesota had the ball just three times, running 17 offensive plays, in the first 30 minutes.
Since opting out of virtual off-season activities, Cook said and did all the right things before the new contract got done. He reported to training camp on time, participated in practices and kept his head down. He says he had faith in God, and the front office, that he would get paid.
Cook came into the season set to make about $1.3 million this season. His new deal is for more than $12 million per year, among the top salaried running backs in the NFL.
“I know how much Minnesota values me, how the front office thinks about me. So I knew I did enough as a player, and it was nothing else that can possibly not come from the situation. It was always Dalvin just go out there and just play, and give it all I got,” Cook said. “That’s the mindset I keep every day I wake up, and I know the Vikings realized that.”
Head coach Mike Zimmer is happy he doesn’t have to worry about his starting running back, barring injury, for years to come.
“Like I’ve said all along, he’s a terrific football player, a great person, good leader. He runs extremely hard, catches the ball well so I’m glad,” Zimmer said.
The pay day didn’t come without some tough times. The Vikings drafted Cook in the second round in 2017 and made four starts before suffering a torn ACL that ended his rookie season.
Then, a nagging hamstring injury two seasons ago limited Cook to 10 starts. He ran for 615 yards and two touchdowns. He broke out last year, with 1,135 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, as well as 519 passing yards. That’s 1,654 combined yards from scrimmage, and that’s despite missing two games and halves of two others with injuries.
He’s proven when healthy, he’s one of the better running backs in the NFL.
“To get to this point and see all the obstacles that I’ve been through, being injured, just watching football and taking a step back from it, not being in, it just shows if you keep working hard, it’s a prize at the end of the road. You just put your head down and just work,” Cook said. “That’s what I did every day, I’m still going to do to this day and I’m going to keep doing it.”
He says the pay day isn’t going to change who he is as a person, and it’s not going to change his approach on the field.
“I just be me. Every day I push myself 1,000 percent in practice. I work extremely had, I give it all I got and that’s going to get a reward for me and that’s just going in the game and making plays and helping my team win football games,” Cook said. “Nothing is going to change for me, I’m going to continue to be Dalvin Cook and go try to get a ring for Minnesota.”
He stressed through the negotiation process he was going to let his agent and the Vikings handle the business. He just wanted a deal fair to him, and to the team. He says it happened, “1,000 percent.”
“All around the situation reflects who Dalvin Cook is and what I bring to the table. That’s why the deal got done,” Cook said.