Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is looking for a payday; and to hear him tell it, he won’t return to the Vikings without one. But when push comes to shove, The Athletic’s Arif Hasan said he thinks Cook will report to camp in July with or without a deal.
“I don’t think it’s very likely,” he said on CBS Sports’ “Pick Six NFL Podcast,” on Thursday.
“The Vikings haven’t had to deal with very many holdouts in their history, and Dalvin doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would.”
Just because Hasan puts the likelihood of a real holdout at “3/10,” doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but there are some strong motivators for Cook to join his teammates in July.
He has however already rejected an offer of $10 million per year; and is reportedly seeking a deal in the $13 million range. If he doesn’t get it, “he’s out,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “Without a reasonable extension, he will not be showing up for camp or beyond.”
Cook is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2020, and is scheduled to make $1.3 million in base salary.
Let’s get one thing straight: the Vikings want to extend Cook. They’ve been a better team with him on the field since drafting him in the second round in 2017; with the team nine games over .500 when he posts 100 or more scrimmage yards but a losing record when he doesn’t.
But despite his importance to the Viking offense, Minnesota has just $12.3 million in cap space remaining. The club has a history of extending its players when it can (see Kirk Cousins); but Cook’s asking price might exceed what Minnesota can afford.
Compounding the financial issues is the uncertainty over whether Cook can stay on the field. He’s missed a total of 19 games over his three NFL seasons; including most of his rookie campaign with an October torn ACL. Between the brutal punishment that running backs take and Cook’s already established injury history; there is significant risk in extending Cook for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps the largest motivator for Cook to return to camp with or without a deal however is in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement; which includes an article to encourage player’s not to hold out.
Article 8, Section 1(b) states: “A player shall not receive an accrued season for any league year in which the player is under contract to a club and in which (i) he failed to report to the club’s preseason training camp.”
So if Cook does decide to hold out of training camp and beyond; he wouldn’t get credit for the upcoming season; meaning he would still have one year of his rookie contract remaining whether he plays two or 200 snaps in the regular season.
This seems like it might be the most important factor in whether Cook is simply posturing for more money or is actually serious about sitting out; but in either case the clear winning outcome is reaching a reasonable figure before players report.