Thursday is the last big day of the NFL offseason in some regards because it’s June 1 and some teams will cut veterans with a post-June 1 release to save money in 2023. One big-name player who could be released as soon as Thursday is Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, a four-time Pro Bowl pick, simply because of money.
NFL Betting News: Vikings Could Release Dalvin Cook As Soon As Thursday
Several months ago, the Vikings could have cut Cook normally, absorbed his dead-cap hit, and then used the nearly $6 million of cap savings toward signing a free agent. Instead, Minnesota has waited, opting instead to secure Cook via a pay cut or trade him for future draft capital. ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter that teams he has spoken to believe Cook will be traded or cut, and that he is open to a fresh start.
Cook, 27, was a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft who has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the past four seasons. He has topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of those seasons and scored 43 rushing touchdowns during that stretch as well. As good as Cook has been, he is set to make $10 million or more in base salary in each of the next three seasons. That’s too much nowadays for a running back. Cook has been linked to Buffalo to reunite with former Viking teammates Latavius Murray and Stefon Diggs. The two could potentially play a behind-the-scenes recruiting role to convince Cook to sign with Buffalo if he is indeed released.
Even after a 13-win season in 2022, Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is firmly looking at the big picture and not simply looking to repeat as division champions in 2023. He wants to build a long-term contender, and he’s handling the cap situation as such.
“It’s positional value, it’s value in the locker room, it’s relative replacements,” Adofo-Mensah said of the things they will consider with veterans. “It’s easy to say, ‘We don’t want this player,’ but what else do you have in your building? You can guess, and I think that’s where you can get yourself into problems in this job is thinking you will be certain on something — the draft or even free agency at that, there is risk involved. You always just want to weigh those things carefully, and it’s tough.”
Amid rumors that Cook could be a goner, Coach Kevin O’Connell praised backup running back Alexander Mattison on Tuesday. The Vikings official Twitter has removed Cook from the header photo and replaced him with Mattison. He has rushed for 404-1670-11 since being drafted by the Vikings in 2019 and has three 100-yard rushing performances to his name.
During a press conference, O’Connell noted the 24-year-old’s ability to be a three-down running back, saying: “It’s been really good to see Alex Mattison take a few more reps and really show that all three-down kinda ownership that he’s been capable of for a long time.”
Mattison averages 4.6 yards per touch in his career, and if the Vikings afford Mattison a Cook-like workload of 300 touches in 2023, he’ll fetch about 1,400 yards from scrimmage. Of course, Minnesota could lean into a full RB-by-committee with Ty Chandler and rookie DeWayne McBride. Chandler carried six times for 20 yards last season as a fifth-round rookie out of North Carolina.
The Vikings aren’t big believers in selecting running backs high in the draft, and one of the reasons is that players like McBride are available in the seventh round. McBride led the FBS in rushing yards last season (1,713), was second with 19 touchdowns at UAB and will join a position group that could be in transition given starter Cook’s uncertain status.
Around the league, John Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Byron Jones have all been designated as June 1 cuts already. Last season, only Rashaad Coward and Sharif Finch were released in the week following June 1. Allowing for the designation means most of the work is done prior to the date.
Minnesota opens the season on Sept. 10 at home vs. Tampa Bay. The teams didn’t play last season.
NFL Odds to Win this Season
|Kansas City Chiefs||+640|
|San Francisco 49ers||+670|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+2200|
|New Orleans Saints||+2900|
|Green Bay Packers||+3900|
|New York Jets||+5000|
|New England Patriots||+6800|
|New York Giants||+7500|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+8000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+8000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+8500|
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