The Minnesota Vikings will reportedly release running back Dalvin Cook on Friday, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. There is still a chance the Vikings trade Cook before Friday, though, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Cook, who will turn 28 before the start of the 2023 season, rushed for almost 6,000 yards in six seasons with Minnesota, including at least 1,000 yards in each of the past four seasons. He’s also made the Pro Bowl in each of the past four seasons and rushed for the fourth-most yards among all running backs since the Vikings drafted him in 2017.
Unless Cook returns to the Vikings later in his career, he’ll finish as the team’s third all-time rusher with 5,993 yards. Only Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith rushed for more. His 47 rushing touchdowns rank fourth in franchise history.
Cook’s contract, age and injury history likely played a role
Though Cook proved to still be a productive running back, his salary cap hit was about to get expensive. Cook signed a five-year, $63 million extension in 2020, but only $2 million of Cook’s 2023 salary was guaranteed. He would have counted $14.1 million against the salary cap if he remained on the roster. A post-June 1 designation also saves the Vikings $9 million in cap release, per Over The Cap.
This could also be an attempt by Minnesota to avoid the dreaded running back cliff. Only 13 running backs since 2015 eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in a season after they turned 28 and only two — Aaron Jones and Derrick Henry — have done it since 2020. Cook experienced a decline in efficiency in 2022 as well: His rushing yards over expectation dropped from +81 to -41 over the past year, according to NextGen Stats, and Cook led the NFL with 62 carries that either lost or didn’t gain a year, per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.
Cook has an extensive injury history as well. Though he didn’t miss a game in 2022 for the first time in his career, Cook missed at least three games every other season, including an ACL tear in his…