Can Cook stay on the field in 2020?
A glimpse at this question seems like we’re stating the obvious. When on the field, Dalvin Cook is one of the best running backs in the NFL. The biggest problem, however, has been his ability to stay on it.
A big part of that has been his injury history. After tearing his ACL in his rookie season and pulling a hamstring in his second year, Cook has played in 31 of 52 possible games (including playoffs) since coming to Minnesota in 2017.
Such a history is problematic for a team that relies on Cook to be the centerpiece of their offense. But it also throws in a giant wrench when it comes to contract negotiations.
With one year left on his rookie deal, Cook is going to the negotiating table at a good time. Entering his age 25 season, there’s a good chance that Cook will be able to produce for the majority of his next deal. But that’s where the dollar amount comes into question.
As Cook has had trouble staying on the field, the Vikings may be reluctant to give him a deal comparable to the one Christian McCaffrey just received from the Carolina Panthers. But as a running back, Cook is going to want to grab every possible penny he can get with his next contract.
This begs the question of whether Minnesota can get a deal done before next season. The Vikings have the cap room to make a deal happen at the moment, but the unknown status of the 2021 salary cap throws another wrench into negotiations.
If Cook isn’t ready to go at any time in 2020, it will put a lot of pressure on Alexander Mattison and that’s another piece of Minnesota’s offense that will change.