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3 ideal Dalvin Cook trade scenarios this offseason

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Minnesota Vikings are a different team when Dalvin Cook is at his best. But even without him, Alexander Mattison and Kene Nwangwu stepped up admirably in Cook’s absence, still averaging well over 100 yards from the ground.

Running backs have a limited shelf life once they get to the NFL. They’ve been absorbing hits, taking collisions for several years at this point. No one knows when a halfback will tail off, looking like a shell of their former self.

Only the truly great, historical Hall of Fame-type backs typically run strong for up to 10 years or more. Is Dalvin Cook one of those types? By all indications, with his innate ability to make defenders miss like few others before him, Cook may very well have a lasting impact beyond his age-27 season in 2022.

Then, there’s the possibility that he doesn’t. Cook battles through many injuries each year, thanks to his hard-nosed running style. His toughness often keeps him going, but when it doesn’t, it hurts the team, whose offense is predicated around Cook touching the ball 20+ times per game. In fact, Cook has yet to make it through a full season in his five years in the NFL.

When he’s on, he’s one of the best backs in the league. When he’s off, he’s the fourth-highest-paid runner in the league, only sitting on the bench, not helping the team.

The Vikings have gotten ahead of potential future concerns in the past, surprisingly dealing Stefon Diggs before anyone expected it. The reason? General manager Rick Spielman got an offer he couldn’t refuse. What if the same were to happen ahead of April’s 2022 NFL Draft with Dalvin Cook?

Houston Texans land bellcow back

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Minnesota Vikings trade: Dalvin Cook
  • Houston Texans trade: 37th pick, 2023 fourth-round pick

The Houston Texans desperately need to inject some talent into their offense. Trading Deshaun Watson and making their 2022 NFL Draft selections will go a long way toward reshaping their core. One way to jumpstart that process is by acquiring a player already at the top of his game, like Dalvin Cook.

Trading Cook allows the Vikings to shed salary at a position they are well-stocked at both now and for the future, while being able to capitalize on his value, selling at his peak. Cook is locked into a contract through 2025, which could be enticing for a team such as the Texans who may struggle to recruit top talent. It could even cause them to offer a boatload trade offer that new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can’t refuse.

While Cook isn’t any part of the problem in Minnesota, he’s arguably expendable simply because the Vikings have found comparable production at a much less expensive rate. It wouldn’t make fans happy, but it could end up paying off in the long run.

Dalvin Cook heads home to play for Miami Dolphins

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Minnesota Vikings trade: Dalvin Cook
  • Miami Dolphins trade: 29th pick

Arguably the biggest thing holding the Miami Dolphins back is their inefficient running game. The ‘Fins average just 3.5 yards per carry, the second-worst rank in the NFL. They have yet to invest much in the position and are likely angling to change that this offseason under new coach Mike McDaniel. One way to solve their woes would be by trading for Miami native Dalvin Cook.

Cook was born and raised in Florida and even attended college at Florida State where he thrived.

While Cook seems to enjoy his time in Minnesota, if there’s one other place the running back would likely want to play, it’s back in Miami.

Buffalo Bills swing another blockbuster trade with Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings
Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
  • Minnesota Vikings trade: Dalvin Cook
  • Buffalo Bills trade: 57th pick, 2023 second-round pick

Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane made once struck a blockbuster deal few anticipated with the Stefon Diggs trade. While the Vikings have a new GM in place now, the Bills could be looking to make another splash. Despite having the sixth-best yards per carry average in the NFL in 2022, the Bills haven’t been able to consistently make an impact when running the ball, aside from Josh Allen.

They lack a game-breaking back and Allen can’t afford to keep putting his body in harm’s way when they need a first down on third or fourth and short. Knowing this, the Bills will likely place a big emphasis on improving in the trenches and at tailback.

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Vikings fans would not enjoy seeing yet another talented playmaker head to Buffalo, but they should be prepared for some big changes this offseason. It may not be Dalvin Cook, but with the team reportedly looking to cut costs, something has to give after another year of missing the playoffs.

  • Dalvin Cook contract (2022): $12 million cap hit, $9.3 million dead salary if traded, savings of $2.7 million
  • Dalvin Cook contract (2023): $14 million cap hit, $6.2 million dead salary if traded, savings of $7.9 million

However, moving on from Cook’s contract makes a lot more sense in 2023, when the Vikes would save more money and avoid a larger cap penalty in dead money. While trading Cook could recoup some valuable assets, it doesn’t quite make sense for an offense in need of his ability to make something out of nothing. Until the interior offensive line is fixed, Cook’s evasiveness is an added asset in its own right.