Dalvin Cook has missed 19 of 48 games due to injury. His 1,135 rushing yards in 2019 represent a career high, but that’s a far cry from Adrian Peterson‘s 2,000 yard season from only seven years earlier.
The Vikings nevertheless are committed to rewarding Cook, a second-round pick in 2017 who has become exactly what the Vikings expected him to be.
“We believe in paying our own players,” G.M. Rick Spielman said recently on the #PFTPM podcast. “Those are the guys that we develop, we know them the best, we know where they are from a work ethic standpoint, we know what type of players they are, but we also know how much they mean to our community and how involved they are. And Dalvin checks all those boxes. He is a very good football player, but he is even a better human being. So we take the whole picture in and how philosophy and history has been, develop them, and hopefully we are drafting well enough we have to give long-term extensions to guys that have come in and helped us win ball games and fit everything we are looking for and build our culture.”
Cook was believed to be a risk when he was drafted, due to off-field concerns that were vague and never fully developed and, as the Vikings learned both before and after picking him, completely and totally unfounded.
“He has been off the charts,” Spielman said of Cook. “And those are things that you do a lot of background work on. We have always done that. I remember the call I made to him that Friday morning before we drafted him and moved up to go get him and how impressive he was, and just me and him talking one-on-one before the draft started that day, and you know just talking through some of the sources that I know that have been around him, we felt very confident in taking him. Not just because he was a great player, but because what he stood for as a human being, and all of those things and all of the resources and all of the research that we have done on him came true, and he is one of the leaders in the community he is always out front, he is always contributing in different ways. He just did another thing with COVID-19, and how he has sacrificed some of his money and so that just tells what kind of character and person that we did enough research on that we were very confident. That is what he was going to turn out to be and that is what he was and has been.”
Finding the right amount and structure for Cook will be a different issue. But the Vikings clearly want to reward him, and they’ve seen enough in three years — even with the injuries — to know that he’s worth the investment. Given the way the offense operates when Cook is firing on all cylinders, he definitely is.