Why the Vikings (likely) haven't released RB Dalvin Cook yet

Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook / Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

During the last few months for the Minnesota Vikings, it has felt like a Dalvin Cook release or trade is inevitable. Despite these feelings, Cook is still currently on the Vikings' roster, and debates about his future with the franchise continue to take place every day.

On Wednesday, ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio raised the question about why Minnesota still hasn't released the veteran running back, especially since they could just give his release a June 1st designation right now and still receive the benefits from letting him go after that date.

Florio believes the Vikings finding a trade partner for Cook at this point in the offseason "seems not likely." But waiting until after June 1st to see if there's any sort of increase of interest in trading for the running back might be exactly what Minnesota is currently doing.

Minnesota Vikings would rather trade RB Dalvin Cook than release him

As we just saw them do with linebacker Za'Darius Smith, the Vikings would likely prefer to have a say in where Cook plays in 2023 if he ends up somewhere else. This way, Minnesota can avoid the running back landing with a team that could get in the way of them making the playoffs next season.

If the Vikings were to just release him, then Cook would be free to sign with any team, including a number of teams in the NFC that Minnesota will be competing with in 2023 like the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Los Angeles Rams.

Some teams are expected to have more cap space freed up after June 1st this summer, which might result in some new potential trade partners for the Vikings.

The Miami Dolphins, who reportedly had trade talks with Minnesota about Cook earlier this offseason, are scheduled to clear up more than $13 million in cap space on June 1st after they cut cornerback Byron Jones earlier this year and placed a June 1st designation on the transaction. These additional funds could allow the Dolphins to become a more legitimate trade partner for the running back.

Releasing Cook and giving him the opportunity to sign with any NFL team he wants seems like a last resort for the Vikings. But if Minnesota still can't find a trade partner after June 1st, then the team isn't going to really have any other choice than to release him if they can't convince the running back to agree to a reduced salary for the 2023 season.