Minnesota tailback Dalvin Cook had a career year in 2019 and now has threatened to hold out this season without a new contract, although the Vikings hold most of the leverage. Here are Cook’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
Cook was the No. 41 overall pick by Minnesota in the 2017 draft out of Florida State. He was the only player in ACC history to break 4,000 rushing yards in 3 seasons.
Cook was limited to just four games as a rookie due to injury. He had set a Vikings team record for most rushing yards by a rookie through 1st 3 games with 288 yards. In 2018, Cook finished the season with 920 yards from scrimmage (615 rushing, 305 receiving) and 4 total touchdowns while starting 10 of the 11 games he appeared in.
Last season, Cook really broke out with 1,135 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns to go along with 53 receptions for 519 receiving yards in 14 games. The 13 rushing scores were second-most in franchise history.
In the NFC Wild Card game against the New Orleans Saints, Cook rushed 28 times for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns and caught 3 passes for 36 yards during the 26-20 overtime win. In the Divisional Round loss to the 49ers, Cook only rushed nine times for 18 yards as the Vikings were blown out.
Cook has played 31 games in his career (including playoffs) and his production can be directly tied to the Vikings’ success over the past three seasons. Since 2017, Minnesota is 12-3 when Cook has at least 100 scrimmage yards in a game, and 6-9-1 when he has fewer than 100 yards.
Last season, Minnesota used designed run plays on 47.4% of its offensive snaps, the second-highest figure in the NFL. Cook took 38.1% of the Vikings’ touches from scrimmage in 2019, the ninth-highest percentage in the league, and totaled 1,654 all-purpose yards and 13 rushing touchdowns in his first Pro Bowl season.
Back in June, Cook said he would longer participate in any team-related activities until and unless he receives what he determines to be a “reasonable” deal. Cook has one year at $1.3 million left on his contract. He is looking for about $13 million per season, while the Vikings reportedly haven’t offered more than $10 million per year. Minnesota did sign Stefon Diggs, Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph to extensions on the eve of camp in recent years so perhaps Cook will get his contract later this month before the team reports.
It’s not likely that Cook misses camp as the new collective bargaining agreement seriously discourages a player from entering such a holdout because it can directly affect a player’s ability to reach unrestricted free agency. If Cook does not report on the mandatory reporting date later this month with his teammates, or at any point thereafter does not fulfill his contract for any material period of time, he would not accrue the fourth season he needs to become an unrestricted free agent next March. Instead, Cook would be a restricted free agent, meaning the Vikings could retain him with a first-round restricted tender worth between $4 [million] and $5 million instead of having to apply a franchise tag that would be worth roughly double that.
Over the past two seasons, Cook has the 15th-best Pro Football Focus rushing grade (81.3) and is tied for 27th in rushing yards per attempt (4.6). He is also tied for 27th in yards after contact per attempt (3.0), tied for 18th in broken tackle rate (0.19 per attempt) and hasn’t ranked higher than sixth in PFF’s elusive rating in either season.
Nine of the NFL’s top-10 rushers in 2019 were on their rookie contracts — including Cook. The one exception was the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott, Carlos Hyde and Mark Ingram were the only 1,000-yard rushers — out of 16 total — last season who weren’t on their rookie contracts.
If Cook were to hold out, his backup is Alexander Mattison, who had 462 rushing yards in 2019 at an impressive 4.6 yards per tote as a rookie.
The Vikings are 3-point home favorites for Week 1 vs. Green Bay.