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Cookin’ up the Wrong Deal in Minnesota

With Training Camp approaching at the end of this month, Dalvin Cook has notified the Minnesota Vikings front office that he will sit out until both sides negotiate a long term contact. On May 31st 2017, the dual threat running back signed a 4 Yr/$6.35 M deal with the team. In week four of his rookie campaign Cook suffered an ACL injury that put an end to his season. The promising Florida State product had trouble in his second year coming back from the injury. His second season consisted of rushing for only 600 yards and two Touchdowns. This was also accompanied by 300 receiving yards and another two receiving Touchdowns. Those numbers are less than ideal for a running back looking to make a name for himself in the league.

Cook’s Breakout Season

In Cook’s third season in the league he was fully healthy and his numbers were there to show. In his breakout season he was able to to cement himself as a top 10 running back in the NFL. 2019 was all Cook could have dreamed of during his long road back from an ACL tear. Cook ran for over 1100 yards on 250 carries while punching in a jaw dropping 13 Touchdowns. He was able to add 50 receptions with 520 receiving yards. Yet, he failed to get into the end zone through the air. These numbers were enough to have Dalvin selected to his first Pro Bowl. The production Cook displayed on the field last season is exactly what the Vikings envisioned when they selected Cook early in the second round of the NFL Draft in 2017. However, I still am against him receiving top dollar for a long term extension for several reasons.

The first topic of discussion is he is not Christian McCaffrey. He is not Ezekiel Elliot. He has still yet to prove he as is important to his team as those two outstanding backs. At each and every position in the league, there are tiers that differentiate players and their skill set. Cook does not come close to the Tier 1 of running backs that he wants to be compensated like. Elliot, McCaffrey, Barkley, and Kamara are all running backs that are more efficient than Cook. They also have a stronger track record of success in the league. Never mind the fact that running backs rarely get paid top dollar due to the position resulting in short careers. Cook will need to have another two or three seasons similar to his production in 2019 in order to receive the money he is looking to bank with a long term deal.

The Future

Respectfully, I have major doubts in Cook returning to camp this off season due to the Vikings holding off on a major contract extension. Each NFL Franchise is already going to lose millions of dollars if we get a season in 2020 due to the lack of stadium seating and concession sales. The last thing Minnesota wants to do is give a boatload of guaranteed money to a running back who still has yet to prove he can stay healthy for the bulk of his career. Cook definitely should continue to have success if he can stay healthy. With Stefon Diggs being traded to Buffalo, there is a strong chance opposing defenses can put more of a focus on stopping the Minnesota run. This change of attack from the opposing teams could ultimately put a low ceiling on Cooks ability to have as great of a statistical year as he did this past season. Cook still has a chance to prove to he is a top back. But, he won’t be receiving top dollar this offseason.

-Fred O’Brien @FOBSportsNFL

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