8 best Minnesota Vikings running backs after their first 3 years

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Minnesota Vikings

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Chester Taylor

Where do Dalvin Cook’s first three seasons rank with other Minnesota Vikings greats?

The Minnesota Vikings have done a tremendous job in retaining their top players over the past few years.

It started with signing safety Harrison Smith to a five-year, $51.3 million contract in 2016. Two years later, the Vikings signed linebacker Eric Kendricks to a five-year, $50 million deal.

Minnesota completed four big deals in 2019 with Danielle Hunter (five years, $72 million), Anthony Barr (five years, $67.5 million), Adam Thielen (four years, $64.2 million) and Kyle Rudolph (four years, $36 million). This offseason the deals continued with a two-year extension for Kirk Cousins worth $66 million.

Dalvin Cook hopes he is next in line to cash in with the Vikings. Cook enters the 2020 season on the last year of his rookie contract and he’s set to only make $1.3 million in base salary. He has already indicated he will not participate in any team activities until he signs an extension and he is prepared to sit out the season.

Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman and the team’s executive vice president of football operations, Rob Brzezinski, will need to work their magic once more in massaging the team’s salary cap position to find a way to sign Cook to a “reasonable” amount of money that both sides can agree to.

According to Spotrac.com, the Vikings currently have around $11 million in available cap space (Top 51), but they also haven’t signed any of their 2020 draft picks yet.

An argument for not extending Cook is that he has yet to play an entire season and his backup, Alexander Mattison, is capable to take over with a cap hit of only $880,000. On the other hand, when healthy, Cook is a game-changer and he is just as effective as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Adding to the situation is the fact that Minnesota is a little unsettled at wide receiver this year. Thielen is coming off a season where he missed six games and the Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills providing plenty of leverage to Cook in his request for a long-term extension.

Look for Spielman to find a way to extend his top running back beyond 2020. Last season, Cook gained 1,654 total yards from scrimmage—good enough for 10th in the NFL.

Based on the salaries of the top running backs in the league for 2020, Minnesota will need to pay Cook as much as $6.8 million in base salary per season. That would place him on par with Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, who currently has the fifth-highest base salary of any NFL running back.

In three seasons, Cook has totaled 3,018 yards from scrimmage with 19 touchdowns. So how does his performance stack up against some of the best running backs Vikings history?

The following ranking uses data from the first three seasons of each running back with Minnesota. Calculations to determine the ranking emphasized total yards from scrimmage, touchdowns, and games played. Let’s dive in and go over who top eight running backs in their first three seasons with the Vikings are.

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