The Minnesota Vikings had a rather quiet offseason up to this point, but that could all be changing with the news that broke late Monday afternoon. According to Adam Schefter and other sources, Dalvin Cook intends to hold out until he gets his contract restructured.
The Vikings already lost their leading receiver in a trade with Buffalo earlier this offseason, so losing the other star of the offense would be a huge blow in 2020. The team finished sixth overall in terms of rushing yards in 2019 and Cook ran for over 53 percent of those yards.
Cook also played a vital role in the Vikings passing offense racking in 53 catches for 519 yards. He finished second on the team in receiving yards only behind Diggs who had 1,130 yards. With the departures of Diggs and the holding out of Cook, the Vikings would be losing 2,825 of their yards from last season, or nearly half of their all-purpose yards.
These statistics are scary but they’re also a part of how the NFL works. It’s no secret that the Vikings aren’t in a great place in terms of cap space and paying Cook would only make it harder to pay other key assets down the road.
Christian McCaffery signed a monster deal for the running back position this offseason, a deal that is paying him $16 million per year. Cook and McCaffery are both in the top tier at their position, so Cook could be seeking something in the same ballpark as the Carolina Panthers star running back.
There’s no question that Cook is a top five running back in the league when he is healthy. However, he has battled many injuries and only played in 29 of 48 possible regular season games during his three years in Minnesota. The amount of injuries Cook has battled thus far in his career have to be taken into consideration when the contract negotiation begins.
On top of the amount of money it may take and the injury concerns, the Vikings have a running back on a rookie contract that performed well in a limited role last season. Alexander Mattison only ran for 462 yards and one touchdown last season but carried the ball 150 less times than Cook. Mattison averaged 4.6 yards per carry while Cook averaged slightly less with 4.5 yards per carry.
Mattison still has a long way to go to be put into the same class as Cook but he certainly showed flashes of having similar run styles. What Gary Kubiak brought with him to Minnesota in the outside zone scheme is another big reason the team found success at running the ball last season. Mattison would be more than capable of being the go-to guy in 2020, and the team could explore several options in 2021 at adding depth to the position.
The 2021 free agents at the running back position are loaded with talent. This list consists of Cook, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Marlon Mack, Todd Gurley, Joe Mixon, Leonard Fournette and a few others. The 2021 draft class will also have some extremely talented running backs that would allow the Vikings to groom another one on a rookie contract.
The news of Cook holding out is not something most Vikings fans wanted to hear towards the end of their Monday, but it might not be the worst thing for the team. With the amount of cap space the Vikings have, they are limited moving forward with big player signings.
With the limited cap space, the injury history, the value of having a running back on a rookie contract and the available talent in 2021, the Vikings need to make sure they weigh their options heading into contract negotiations.