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Minnesota Vikings to release running back Dalvin Cook

The Minnesota Vikings plan to release running back Dalvin Cook after being unable to find a suitable trade partner for him this offseason.

Cook, entering his age-28 season, has been floated in NFL trade rumors since Minnesota was eliminated from the playoffs. He was originally viewed as a projected cap casualty, but the Vikings kept him with the hope a trade would materialize.

  • Dalvin Cook stats (career): 5,993 rushing yards, 47 rushing touchdowns, 4.7 yards per carry

NFL teams started receiving calls about Cook in March, with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets among the most heavily connected with interest. Cook is coming off his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season and totaled 5,993 rushing yards in 73 career regular-season games with the Vikings across six seasons.

According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, the Vikings have informed Cook that they plan to release him. Minnesota will make one last attempt to trade him on Thursday, but the expectation is that he will be released on Friday.

He underwent shoulder surgery in February, with doctors repairing the shoulder he has injured repeatedly throughout his NFL career.

While he provides an immediate upgrade at running back and will serve a three-down role, his workload is expected to take a hit. After averaging 311 touches per season over the last four years, Cook is likely headed for fewer than 280 touches this fall no matter where he signs in free agency.

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Impact of Dalvin Cook trade on Minnesota Vikings offense

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
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It became evident early in the NFL offseason that Minnesota was prepared to move on from Dalvin Cook. The Vikings noticed that he wasn’t as explosive in 2022 and they needed cap space. So, the natural conclusion became parting ways with one of the highest-paid NFL players.

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Before moving on from Cook, Minnesota re-signed Mattison to a two-year contract worth $7 million. It later spent a seventh-round pick on running back DeWayne McBride, adding him to a depth chart that also includes Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler.

Mattison will have an opportunity in training camp to prove he can be the featured back in Minnesota. The Vikings have provided him with limited opportunities before, both as a starter and in a complementary role to Cook. Minnesota is hopeful he can have a Tony Pollard-like breakout season in 2023.

“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.”

Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell on Alexander Mattison

There are reasons for the Vikings’ optimism. He’s demonstrated flashes of being a high-end starter when provided the opportunity. However, ineffectiveness has proven to be an issue at times.

Mattison is expected to handle a majority of the touches in Minnesota, playing an even bigger role on third downs. He should help the Vikings maintain their third-down efficiency from last season (41.1%, 11th in NFL) and Cook’s departure should result in Minnesota’s passing rate (64.4%, third in NFL) being maintained.

McBride should also be a beneficiary from Cook’s departure. The 5-foot-11 running back averaged 7.3 yards per carry across three seasons at UAB. While he’s a non-factor on passing downs – five receptions in 31 games – he can step into a complementary role as a rookie.

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