Vikings Hold Out to Create Dalvin Cook Bidding War Between Contenders


Running back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball during a game against the Indianapolis Colts in December 2022.

The all-important June 1 deadline has come and gone, yet running back Dalvin Cook remains a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is dragging his feet on Cook for a reason, as reports of interest from several contenders including the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles continue to roll in. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler appeared on a Saturday, June 3 edition of SportsCenter, during which he reported the Vikings are “holding out” in an attempt to create a bidding way for Cook’s services.

“Teams I talked to believe [the Vikings are] open to a trade and maybe holding out for that. So, they held onto [Cook’s] $14 million cap hit for a while now and can do so a little bit longer in the short-term,” Fowler said, per Bleacher Report. “But they can save $11 million on their salary cap if they trade him now that we’re past June 1. And so, should be some interest there if they can shake it out.”

Dalvin Cook Trade More Likely for Vikings if They Can Inspire Fear Around NFL

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings talks during warmups prior to the NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the New York Giants in January 2023.

Developing trade interest in Cook comes down to one objective for the Vikings — fostering fear in at least one of the teams heavily interested in the four-time Pro Bowler’s services.

The Dolphins talked trade with the Vikings for Cook ahead of the NFL Draft. Those discussions fell apart, though Miami’s interest in bringing the Florida native into the fold has not waned. Rumors are flying freely enough around the league that Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald took to print to report on notions of a “secret agreement” between Cook and the Dolphins to work out a contract should Minnesota release the running back and allow him to hit free agency.

“For those asking if Dalvin Cook to the Dolphins is a done deal, I have been led to believe it’s not a done deal,” Jackson wrote on Friday. “Could Cook end up here? Absolutely. It’s certainly a real possibility if he’s cut by Minnesota. There would be interest on both sides. But from my understanding, there’s not some secret agreement between the parties.”

Just because Jackson hasn’t heard there’s a wink-wink agreement in place doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. More importantly than its existence, though, is the mere threat of such an agreement to the Super Bowl prospects of teams like the Bills and the Eagles.

Trading for Cook means any one of the three aforementioned suitors will need to surrender a draft asset, or assets, of some type while also absorbing the remaining three seasons on the RB’s five-year, $63 million contract. A free agent agreement, on the other hand, will allow a franchise to negotiate its own terms with Cook and lock him in at a much lower salary cap number in 2023.

But to a team with the right incentive — say having spent the last season or two breathing down the neck of a Super Bowl ring like Philadelphia and Buffalo have — Cook’s juice might be worth the squeeze if it means landing an elite-level running back who could prove the missing championship piece.

Dalvin Cook’s Clean Bill of Health Affords Vikings More Trade Leverage

GettyRunning back Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings watches pregame action prior to a matchup against the Green Bay Packers in January 2023.

The Vikings are maintaining the leverage to potentially trade Cook not just by retaining him in the immediate or by letting rumors of his preferred destinations leak and fester in the minds of competing front offices. They are also doing so by allowing the running back to get healthy and leaving open the door that he might return to Minnesota on some kind of restructured deal.

“If [the Vikings can’t find a trade], they might even have to release [Cook] or work on some sort of reworked contract for him to return,” Fowler continued Saturday. “But I’m told that Cook, at this point, is open to a fresh start. He’s now healthy as well after the shoulder surgery.”

Initially, Cook balked at the suggestion of taking a pay cut to remain in Minnesota. However, both Cook’s tune and the Vikings’ tune have changed somewhat over the last few weeks, leaving open the possibility that he might return to the team for the 2023 campaign and beyond. At the very least, those shifts in stance might raise an eyebrow or two in interested front offices around the league and could improve trade possibilities if they gain enough traction.