A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday that the Minnesota Vikings have notified running back Dalvin Cook that they want to release him.
According to a source, the Vikings were planning to attempt to trade Cook again on Thursday, but instead intend to process his release on Friday. Cook’s six-year career in Minnesota will be over.
According to Schefter, the Miami Dolphins will be interested in signing Cook after he is released.
Cook, who turns 28 in August, was scheduled to take up $14.1 million in salary space for 2023 and was expected to make $11 million if he played for the Vikings this season. Those are significant figures for an ageing running back who had over 1,500 touches last season.
Cook will be owed $2 million if the Vikings release him. The Vikings would save $9 million in cap space while incurring $5.1 million in dead money if they did so after June 1.
When questioned about Cook’s probable availability Thursday, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel refused to comment, instead complimenting his current core of running backs, which includes veterans Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., and Myles Gaskin, as well as youngster Devon Achane.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with how they’ve practised, and I’m very pleased with their competitive camaraderie,” McDaniel added. “They’re all trying to be the best, but not against each other, and they recognise that each of them can help them get better, so it’s been a fun camp for them.”
After the Vikings re-signed Cook’s longstanding backup, Alexander Mattison, to a deal that contained $6.35 million in full guarantees for the next five seasons, the long-rumored breakup looked inevitable. Despite repeated chances after that trade, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah declined to comment on whether Cook will remain with the team in 2023.
Mattison is projected to take over as the team’s main tailback, with 2022 backups Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler vying for the No. 2 spot, as well as perhaps newcomer DeWayne McBride. During organised team exercises last month, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said that Mattison has shown “that all-three-down kind of ownership that he’s been capable of for a long time.”
Cook, a second-round selection in 2017, battled to remain on the field in Minnesota for most of his early career. His rookie season was cut short after four games due to a ruptured ACL, and he missed two to five games in each of the following four seasons due to a variety of different ailments. Because of a persistent shoulder ailment, he was compelled to wear a harness for the most of his career.
Nonetheless, from 2019 to 2022, he had four straight 1,000-yard seasons and scored 29 running touchdowns. After his debut year, he averaged 42 catches each season.
Cook started every game for the first time in his career in 2022, despite separating his shoulder in Week 3. However, with O’Connell’s new system, he averaged 17.8 touches and 86 yards from scrimmage per game, both of which were his lowest totals since becoming a full-time player in 2019.
He did, however, have two of his six longest runs of his career in 2022, a 53-yard touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 and an 81-yard touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he had a high speed of 21.68 mph on the latter, ranking fifth among all ball carriers in 2022.
However, his efficiency statistics, which reflect the frequency of carries that result in a favourable outcome, have significantly decreased. He led the NFL with 62 carries that gained or lost a yard. And, as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out, in Next Gen Stats’ model, just 34.5% of his rushes earned more yards than expected, the second-lowest percentage among running backs with at least 200 carries in 2022.
Cook had shoulder surgery on February 14 in the aim of preventing the persistent separations he has experienced. The Vikings indicated at the time that he would be completely healed in time for the start of the regular season. He had not been taking part in the Vikings’ voluntary offseason programme, and the timing of his departure ensures that there will be no conflict about whether he reports for required minicamp later this month.