The clues continue to add up that Dalvin Cook isn’t part of the Minnesota Vikings long-term plans. Or perhaps even the short term plans for the NFL franchise.
Fantasy Life’s Ian Hartitz noted a change to the Vikings Twitter header image. Out was Dalvin Cook, in was fellow running back Alexander Mattison.
It’s not entirely clear when the change happened.
It might have been that way for weeks now or been changed as recently as the schedule release last week. What matters is that now Cook, one of the highest paid running backs in the league, isn’t on there.
The other three players in the header image — Kirk Cousins, T.J. Hockenson and Justin Jefferson — remain unchanged.
And while this superficial change might seem small, nothing gets ignored as it begins to look like Cook is on the outs.
More on Cook’s potential departure from Minnesota
ESPN NFL reporter Dianna Russini said “all signs points” to the Vikings releasing Cook. This comes days after ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter said that this could be the end for Cook in Minnesota.
Cook, who turns 28 in August, signed a massive contract extension with the Vikings in 2020. He has three years left on his contract and is owed more than $35 million.
By cutting him, the Vikings would save almost $6 million against the salary cap in 2023.
Cook also had shoulder surgery this offseason to address a torn shoulder labrum he’d played with since 2019.
The hope is the surgery will have Cook healthy enough to play a full slate of games for the second time in his career. He played all 17 games in 2022, the first time in his pro career he’d played in every regular season game.
But with the Vikings continuing to retool the roster under head coach Kevin O’Connell, Cook might be playing elsewhere. The Vikings already have Alexander Mattison under contract and drafted DeWayne McBride out of UAB in the seventh round. They also have Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler under contract.
The Vikings took Cook from Florida State with the 41st overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Cook’s averaged 82.1 rushing yards a game in 73 contests. He’s been an able pass catcher, too, averaging around 25 yards per game as a receiver.
He’s also been a Pro Bowler the past four seasons, more than half of his seven-season career, to date.
If Cook does hit the free agent market, he’d be a solid bet to take for a running back needy team.