The Minnesota Vikings would ideally like running back Dalvin Cook to be part of their plans for the long haul, but reports say a new contract isn’t close.
Running back Dalvin Cook at the Minnesota Vikings are reportedly not close to signing a new contract extension, which would alleviate concerns the 24-year-old superstar could leave after 2020.
This, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who reported Tuesday morning both Cook and the Vikings have had “productive talks” in regards to a contract extension yet nothing is close to being finalized.
The report saying the conversation was productive, however, is encouraging and could ultimately lead to a new deal between now and Week 1.
Cook is set to kick off this season on the final year of his rookie contract signed shortly after Minnesota selected him at No. 41 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Currently, the rookie contract is a four-year, $6,353,310 deal ranked in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement for rookies.
After his first two seasons, which saw a combined 969 rush yards, 395 receiving yards and six total touchdowns, it might have made some sense the Minnesota Vikings weren’t too eager to think about a contract extension. But that was before Cook posted exceptionally incredible numbers in 2019 — 1,135 rush yards, 519 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns — becoming an inherently necessary part of then-offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
While Stefanski since departed for the Cleveland Browns’ head coaching vacancy during the offseason, Cook’s role under current coordinator Gary Kubiak is expected to be much of the same.
For now, however, it’s about the numbers and weighing the value of running backs against the market and what the Vikings currently have, financially.
According to Spotrac.com’s market-value tool, Cook would be worth a five-year, $61,635,370 deal worth just over $12.3 million annually. While there’s little doubting Cook’s 2019 production would justify that kind of payday, the Vikings clearly want to avoid what some other teams, particularly the Los Angeles Rams, have done in regards to paying running backs. In 2018, Los Angeles signed its former running back, Todd Gurley, to a four-year, $57,500,000 deal which severely hindered the team’s fiscal abilities to make changes elsewhere.
And when Gurley’s production began to diminish late that year and into 2019, the Rams found themselves handcuffed.
One of the major concerns the Vikings will unquestionably face is the possibility of overpaying at a position where the shelf life isn’t particularly long and the chances of injury are high.
Especially among players who already have injury histories like Cook.
Challenges facing the Minnesota Vikings with Dalvin Cook
Currently, according to Over the Cap, the Minnesota Vikings boast $12,267,552 in available cap space and don’t yet have all their rookies from the 2020 draft signed. There’s always some reworkings to free up space, of course, and Minnesota could backload any pending Cook deal.
But it’s not hard to see why there could be some challenges here.
There are also a few options for Cook, too, provided no deal is reached anytime soon. He could play on the final year of his rookie deal, banking on his own talents and production to cash in on a significant extension, potential franchise tag in 2021 or hope for a lucrative deal on the free-agent market.
Cook could also sit out and not play until a new deal is finalized, given the always-present risk of a serious injury.
Whatever the case, this storyline won’t go away anytime soon.