Posted on: June 9, 2023, 11:18h.
Last updated on: June 9, 2023, 11:47h.
The Minnesota Vikings cut running back Dalvin Cook and the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos are the leading contenders to sign him as a free agent.
The Vikings cut the four-time All-Pro running back on Friday to free up $9 million in cap space. Cook had been the subject of trade rumors over the last month, but the Vikings were unable to find a suitable trade partner.
The Vikings were 13-4 last season and only two other NFL teams won more games than them last season. For the fourth-straight season, Cook rushed for at least 1,100 yards.
The Vikings secured the #3 seed in the NFC playoffs but were upset by the #6 New York Giants in the NFC wild-card round.
Cook Battled a Chronic Shoulder Injury
The Vikings selected Cook with a second-round draft pick in 2017 out of FSU. He turns 28 years in August and was set to earn $11 million this season, with a $14.1 million cap hit.
By cutting Cook after June 1, the Vikings save $9 million in much-needed salary cap space with $5.1 million in dead cap money. Cook will still earn $2 million from the Vikings in guaranteed money.
Durability has been an issue with Cook. He appeared in 17 games in 2022, which marked the first time he didn’t miss any games with an injury during his six-year tenure with the Vikings.
In 2017, Cook blew out his ACL in his rookie season after playing in only four games. In the last few seasons, Cook nursed a chronic shoulder injury due to multiple separations and wore a special harness and brace. He underwent surgery in the offseason to fix the nagging injury.
Cook rushed for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns in 17 games last season. He also added 39 catches for 295 yards and two touchdown receptions.
Cook averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 264 attempts in 2022, but led the NFL with 62 attempts where he didn’t gain a single yard or was tackled for a loss.
In six seasons with the Vikings, Cook appeared in 73 games. He rushed 1,282 times for 5,993 yards and 47 touchdowns. He averages 4.7 yards per carry over his career.
Cook contributed to the Vikings’ passing attack by averaging 8.3 yards per catch over the last six seasons. He tallied 221 receptions for 1,794 receiving yards and five touchdown catches in 73 games.
Vikings Promote Alexander Mattison to Starter
Alexander Mattison, a third-round draft pick out of Boise State, has been a capable backup since his rookie season in 2019. The Vikings wouldn’t have cut Cook if they didn’t think Mattison was a solid replacement. Mattison filled in for Cook as a spot starter when Cook missed time in previous seasons.
In 59 games, Mattison averages 4.1 yards per carry. He rushed for 1,670 yards and 11 touchdowns in the last four seasons while adding 70 receptions for 526 yards and three touchdowns.
Mattison is under contract for two more seasons with $6.35 million in full guarantees. He’ll earn $1.1 million in base salary in 2023, with a $1.25 million signing bonus and a $50K workout bonus. In 2024, Mattison will earn a base salary worth $3.3 million in addition to a $1.25 million signing bonus.
The Vikings also have three other running backs on the roster fighting for the backup role, including one rookie. Ty Chandler, a fifth-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft out of North Carolina, is the leading contender to become RB #2 on the roster. Chandler only had six rushes in his rookie campaign for 20 yards.
Kene Nwangwu is also on the roster. The fourth-round pick from Iowa State saw limited action in the last two seasons. He has 22 rushes for 75 yards in two seasons with the Vikings.
The Vikings selected UAB’s Dewayne McBride in the seventh round in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Dolphins, Broncos Eyeing Cook
Several teams would like to upgrade their current situation in the backfield, but not every team has the available cap space to sign Cook. The Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos are the most likely landing spots for Cook.
The Dolphins were linked in off-season trade rumors involving Cook, but couldn’t work out a deal.
The Dolphins averaged 99.2 rushing yards per game as the seventh-weakest rushing attack in the NFL in 2022. They currently have a trio of veterans in training camp, including Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin, and Jeff Wilson Jr. They also drafted rookie Devon Achane out of Texas A&M with a third-round pick.
“Overall, very happy with the way they’ve practiced, very happy with their competitive camaraderie,” said Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.
The Dolphins are +2200 odds to win the Super Bowl as the ninth-highest team on DraftKings’ NFL futures board.
The Broncos are trying to build a potent offense around quarterback Russell Wilson during the first season under new head coach Sean Payton.
The Broncos lost starting running back Javonte Williams to an ACL and LCL injury in Week 4 last season. Williams returns this season, but it typically takes running backs a little longer to regain their explosiveness after reconstructive knee surgery. The Broncos also have veteran Samaje Perine on the roster.
The Broncos are +4000 odds to win the Super Bowl and are in the middle of the pack on the futures board.
Other teams are also interested in Cook, including the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers, and Carolina Panthers.
Vikings on the Future Market
After the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles to win Super Bowl LVII in early February, oddsmakers opened the Vikings at +4500 odds to win the next Super Bowl.
After the 2023 NFL Draft, the Vikings saw their Super Bowl LVIII odds slightly change to +3500 odds at DraftKings.
Cutting Cook didn’t alter the futures market and the Vikings are still currently +3500 odds to win the Super Bowl.
The Vikings are +1500 odds to win the NFC Championship as the seventh-highest team on the board.
The Vikings won the NFC North last season, but the Detroit Lions are the betting favorite to win the division in 2023. The Green Bay Packers are no longer the team to beat in the NFC North after Aaron Rodgers and the Packers parted ways when the quarterback was traded to the New York Jets.
The Lions are +130 odds to win the NFC North, followed by the Vikings (+250), Chicago Bears (+400), and Packers (+500).
The Vikings exceeded expectations last season with 13 victories. Oddsmakers expect the Vikings to hover around .500 this season with a projected win total of 8.5 over/under wins. Betting under 8.5 wins is currently -130 odds at DraftKings, and over 8.5 wins is +110 odds.
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