The Minnesota Vikings find themselves $21.08 million over the 2023 NFL salary cap. That places Dalvin Cook’s future with the team in question.
According to Alec Lewis of The Athletic, this makes the Pro Bowl running back a real possibility to be one of the biggest salary cap casualties ahead of free agency starting in March.
Per Over the Cap, Minnesota would save nearly $8 million should it release Cook outright. If the team designated him a post-June 1 cut, said savings would come in at $11 million.
While the idea of moving off one of the most-productive backs in the game wouldn’t sit well with Vikings fans, there’s something to be said about general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah biting the bullet.
The Vikings have numerous free agents they must consider re-signing this offseason. They also have to cut the fat from the roster in order to be compliant with the NFL salary cap. It has led to speculation that veterans, wide receiver Adam Thielen and safety Harrison Smith could be cap casualties.
With fellow running back Alexander Mattison also set to hit the open market in March, moving off Cook and retaining the younger player could make sense. Below, we look at 4 ideal Dalvin Cook landing spots should the star running back hit the open market.
Los Angeles Chargers provide Justin Herbert some help
Now that Kellen Moore is the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, we anticipate them being active in finding another back to replace Austin Ekeler as the primary guy. Sure Ekeler is a great dual-threat option, but he proved to be inconsistent on the ground a season ago.
The veteran recorded less than 40 rushing yards a total of 10 times in 2022. That’s just not going to cut it with Los Angeles hoping for more balance on offense to go with stud quarterback Justin Herbert.
Enter into the equation a player in Cook who has proven to be as consistent as any back in the NFL. The four-time Pro Bowler gained at least 60 rushing yards in all but six games a season ago. He also went for 90-plus yards on the ground six other times. With Los Angeles potentially set to move off a couple high-priced veterans, it would be able to afford Cook. This just makes too much sense.
Los Angeles Rams swing big for Dalvin Cook
The Rams are going to be in cost-cutting mode this offseason after an injury-plagued five-win campaign. At issue here is quarterback Matthew Stafford’s recovery from a spinal cord injury and the fact that Los Angeles is committed to the aging quarterback through at least the 2025 season given his current contract.
In short, general manager Les Snead must find more balance on offense to help Stafford out. Even if it comes at the cost of trading star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and moving off other parts, this is a move that makes perfect sense. The Rams ranked 28th in rushing last season with Cam Akers (786 yards) leading the charge. That’s not going to cut it.
Mike McDaniel gets another piece in South Beach
Dating back to his days with the San Francisco 49ers, McDaniel has always fancied himself some dual-threats out of the backfield. Dalvin Cook more than fits the bill. He’s averaging 42 receptions over the past five seasons.
With Jeff Wilson set to hit free agency and Raheem Mostert continuing to be hampered by nagging injuries, it’s time that Miami gets a true three-down back. The team’s commitment to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa adds another layer to this. He suffered a whopping three concussions a season ago. Simply put, teams won’t put as much pressure on the signal caller if they have to worry about the run.
- Dalvin Cook stats (2018-22): 5,639 rushing yards, 4.7 average, 210 receptions, 1,704 yards, 7,343 total yards, 50 TD
Imagine a skill-position grouping consisting of Cook, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Both McDaniel and Tua would be out of excuses if this hypothetical union didn’t work out.
Related: Top 2023 NFL free agents
Dalvin Cook saves the day in Buffalo
This has been a major focus for the Buffalo Bills. That is to say, relying on quarterback Josh Allen too much in the run game. He’s attempted a whopping 546 rushing attempts in five seasons. While Allen has remained relatively healthy during this span, it impacted his play during the latter stages of the 2022 campaign.
Playoffs included, Allen commited 17 giveaways in his final 12 games. It led to Bufflao’s premature departure from the playoffs in a season that started with legitimate Super Bowl expectations. Devin Singletary is set to become a free agent. Teaming Dalvin Cook up with his brother, James, and former teammate Stefon Diggs would also be a feel-good story. The Bills are in need of that right now.