It’s been obvious for weeks that it’s just a matter of time before running back Dalvin Cook is no longer a Viking. So why is Cook still a Viking?
It’s a strange situation. The Vikings don’t want to pay Cook $10.4 million this year. They’d clearly like to trade him. They have yet to find a trade partner.
It seems unlikely that they will. No one will be assuming Cook’s salary. A new team would want him to re-do the deal. Why would Cook re-do the deal when he can just hold firm and be released?
The Vikings have two problems, if/when they cut him. First, who will replace him? Alexander Mattison is solid, but he’s not a home-run hitter. They currently don’t have someone who can do what Cook does. Second, they risk looking foolish if/when he goes somewhere else and has a solid season. Casual fans won’t understand the subtleties and nuances of not paying Cook that much money, even though he still has gas in the tank.
The Vikings would prefer to re-direct that cash to someone like Justin Jefferson. And the Vikings understand the risk of having that much cash invested in a position that results in plenty of injuries.
Regardless, it seems to be coming. Cook has been removed from the team’s Twitter head, replaced by Alexander Mattison. That wasn’t an accident.
The question becomes where will Cook land? He has $2 million in fully-guaranteed salary, subject to offset. The sooner he’s cut, the more likely he makes more than that this year elsewhere.
On Friday, the Vikings finally did a face-saving trade for Za'Darius Smith. They surely would love to do the same thing with Cook. It won’t be as easy, and at this point it seems not likely.