Report: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook opting out of team activities without contract extension

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) celebrated after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, September 8, 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Photo by Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune vi

The Minnesota Vikings are in the middle of their virtual off-season program, but one notable name won’t be participating further until he knows his long-term future is in Minnesota.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, running back Dalvin Cook won’t be participating in any further team activities until he can work out a long-term deal with the Vikings. Cook is entering his fourth season with the Vikings after being taken in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Cook led the Vikings with 1,135 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in 14 games last season on the way to earning his first Pro Bowl selection. He missed two games and halves of two others while battling a chest and shoulder injury in 2019. Cook also became a valuable asset for Kirk Cousins in the passing game with 53 catches for 519 yards, averaging 9.8 yards per catch.

He’s expected to have an even bigger role in the offense this year, with Gary Kubiak taking over as offensive coordinator and a run scheme that benefit’s Cook’s talent. Cook is due to make about 1.3 million in base salary in 2020, and has a cap hit north of $2 million.

He would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season if a deal can’t be reached. What kind of deal Cook wants remains to be seen. Currently, 17 NFL running backs make at least $4 million per year, and 14 of those make at least $5 million.

The highest paid running back in the NFL is Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers at $16 million in 2020. Ezekiel Elliott makes $15 million, Le’Veon Bell is at $13.1 million and David Johnson of the Houston Texans is at $13 million. Derrick Henry with the Tennessee Titans is next at $10.3 million, followed by Kenyan Drake at $8.5 million.

Cook’s injury history can’t be ignored as he seeks a long-term deal. He missed most of his rookie year with a torn ACL, then was sidelined two years ago by a nagging hamstring injury before last season’s shoulder issue.

It’s unlikely, however, that the Vikings will get to training camp without something in place for Cook. They have a history of agreeing to contract extensions with players in the days leading up to training camp, and they have big expectations for Cook in 2020 and beyond.

We don’t know what the rest of the virtual off-season looks like, and we don’t know when camp will start. But the Vikings can’t afford to have uncertainty with their top running back heading into the fall.