Offseason Rumors: 5 Teams That Should Acquire RB Dalvin Cook

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Dalvin Cook is a former 2017 second-round pick out of Florida State. He only appeared in 15 games across his first two seasons in the NFL, but it took little time for the Vikings to see how special of a talent he was. Highlighted by a spectacular 70-yard touchdown run, Cook went on a tear in the final eight games in 2018.

Dalvin Cook Bursts Onto The Scene

He posted 715 total yards, including 31 receptions as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Cook found the end zone four times and parlayed this momentum into a breakout campaign in 2019.

The third-year running back finally entered the season fully healthy and quickly became one of the best ball carriers in the league. Cook tallied 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground while chipping in 53 receptions for 519 yards. He missed a couple of games but remained mostly healthy for the Vikings.

Cook’s ascension continued as he entered Year 4 in Minnesota. The franchise rewarded his stellar play with a lucrative $63 million extension the day before the team’s opening week battle vs. Green Bay. Cook made the franchise look smart by surpassing the 100-yard mark on eight separate occasions during the 2020 season, including a 206-yard outburst vs. the Lions in Week 9.

The former Seminole standout ranked second behind Derrick Henry for the league lead in rushing yards. His 16 touchdowns fell one shy of Henry’s total, but we must keep this in context as the Titans’ franchise icon posted arguably the best season from any running back ever.

In Cook’s first season with his new contract in full effect, the All-Pro ball carrier saw significantly fewer snaps but still performed efficiently out of the backfield. In 2022, the explosive running back appeared in every game for the Vikings for the first time in his career.

While this sounds like a positive on the surface, Cook looked like a shell of himself playing through injury. His trademark explosiveness was lacking, but to his credit, Cook found a way to be impactful. Head coach Kevin O’Connell engineered a high-powered offense and used the run game to free up passing lanes for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Before the 2020 contract extension, rumors were hot and heavy that Minnesota would ultimately trade Cook rather than extend him. Those rumors resurfaced last offseason and have since returned in recent months. Now, it’s all but a certainty that the Vikings will cut ties to save cap space.

Going from the second-leading rusher in the NFL to facing uncertainty toward your future is quite the roller coaster for Cook. Few can blame Minnesota, as they did right by him in extending him, but for lack of a better term — the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. Not for the Vikings, at least.

Offseason Rumors: 5 Teams That Should Acquire RB Dalvin Cook

The 27-year-old running back is approaching the cliff that most ball carriers fall off in their late twenties, but if he is released, Cook will come at a nice discount to another team. These five franchises make the most sense because the investment will be minimal, and their roster could use a jolt in the backfield.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills don’t necessarily need Dalvin Cook, but the story is too good not to mention. In last year’s NFL Draft, Buffalo selected Dalvin’s little brother, James. He recorded 507 yards in very minimal action as a rookie, and the chance to pair him with his older sibling could pay dividends for his development and the team’s running game in 2023.

The Cook brothers, spelled by Nyheim Hines and Damien Harris, will give the Bills an impressive stable of running backs. The offense relies too heavily on Josh Allen to create plays, not only as a passer but also with his legs. Youth is still on his side, but it won’t always be that way. Buffalo must establish a reliable run game sooner than later. Dalvin Cook might be the jumpstart they need.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens return the same trio of running backs in J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. Forgive me if none of those names inspire much faith when it comes to remaining healthy for a full 17-game slate. Granted, durability has never been Dalvin Cook’s strong suit, but perhaps a four-headed monster can keep everyone healthy in 2023.

Lamar Jackson is back in the saddle, and with the additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, the offense may lean more pass-happy than it ever has. Still, there is room on the roster for an exciting playmaker like Cook. He will come without much risk and is definitely worth the flyer.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers nearly lost their starting running back this offseason after Austin Ekeler requested a trade from the franchise. The two parties have since mended fences, but after searching for a steady No. 2 behind Ekeler, the front office could see Dalvin Cook as the short-term solution.

The offense will run through Justin Herbert as long as the star quarterback dons the powder blues, but similar to Buffalo, it would be wise to establish a ground game to take some pressure off his dropbacks. Cook is a capable pass catcher and a much better runner between the tackles than Ekeler.

Arizona Cardinals

The first three teams on this list are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but the next two destinations offer to Cook a wealth of snaps. First up, the Arizona Cardinals. Following an offseason of turnover, James Conner remains the RB1 on the depth chart.

Conner is an incredibly inefficient runner and has been bitten by the injury bug countless times in his career. Cook can come in and challenge for starter reps, in which case he should easily win the gig. Either way, Cook and Conner can help keep each other on the field for 17 games.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers traded away Christian McCaffrey midway through last season, and somehow, the running game didn’t miss a beat. Chuba Hubbard returns to the backfield in 2023, flanked by recent signing Miles Sanders. The depth chart is strong with these two, but Dalvin Cook is the ideal cherry on top.

Bryce Young enters Year 1 with considerable hype surrounding him, but the best way for a rookie to find their way in this league is by leaning on the running game. Carolina owns an underrated offensive line, and its new head coach Frank Reich is no stranger to establishing the run. Cook also can serve as a safety blanket in the passing game, making this move a no-brainer.