Vikings Rumors: Trade partner for Dalvin Cook emerges before 2023 NFL Draft

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97)
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are linked with a plethora of blockbuster moves as the NFL Draft approaches. The Vikings and 49ers seemingly are in communication over a potential Trey Lance trade. Such a trade would send the football world into a frenzy given the implications it would have on both organizations.

One move that has flown under the radar -- at least in comparison to the Trey Lance speculation -- is the possibility of Dalvin Cook being on the move.

The Vikings could shock everyone and keep Cook, but the draft presents a golden opportunity to sell high on the star running back. Veterans typically come at a good price during the draft, and this weekend likely marks GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's last chance to find a trade partner.

After all, Minnesota could release Cook with a post-June 1 designation and save $9 million on the cap with $5 million in dead money, per Over the Cap. The main objective, though, is netting a late-round draft choice for Cook and the latest rumblings indicate a buyer could emerge over the course of the draft.

Per ESPN's Dan Graziano, the Dolphins are a team to watch in the Cook sweepstakes.

Dolphins emerge as potential trade partner for Vikings RB Dalvin Cook

"Some people think Miami could get aggressive there if he [Cook] becomes available because the Vikings have drafted another running back," Graziano wrote.

While Cook is a franchise cornerstone, there's multiple obvious reasons the Vikings ostensibly are looking to move on. For one, they're right up against the cap and Cook carries a $14.1 million cap hit in 2023.

With Alexander Mattison back on a two-year deal worth $6.35 million guaranteed, Minnesota cannot justify bringing Cook back on his current projected salary, and it remains to be seen if he's willing to take a pay cut.

Finally, Cook turns 28 in August and is coming off a less-than-stellar season in which he ranked near the bottom of qualified backs in expected points added (EPA) and rushing yards over expected. He also finished with a middling 67.4 player grade, per Pro Football Focus, which is the second worst of his career.

On his day, Cook is a top-three player at the position, but running backs are a dime a dozen and the 2023 class is loaded with them. So much so that the Vikings could come away with one by the end of the third round.

If the Dolphins call with a reasonable offer -- say a fifth- or sixth-round pick -- Adofo-Mensah would be hard-pressed to turn it down.