No one has ever doubted Dalvin Cook from a talent perspective. After all, he made the leap to the NFL after a dominant career at Florida State. However, the Minnesota Vikings running back has put together just one standout season. While he certainly deserves a contract extension, the Vikings would be insane to give him Christian McCaffrey money.
Christian McCaffrey signed a record-setting deal in April
Like Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey entered the NFL after a terrific college career. At Stanford, the running back with NFL bloodlines turned into a Heisman candidate thanks to his complete skill set.
Interestingly, both McCaffrey and Cook got drafted in 2017. But while the Vikings snagged their starting running back in the second round, the Carolina Panthers spent the ninth overall pick on McCaffrey.
That price turned out to be more than worth it. Though he didn’t put up great rushing numbers as a rookie, McCaffrey caught 80 passes and scored seven total touchdowns. After adding more bulk, he ripped off one of the most incredible seasons by a running back in recent memory. As the focal point of Carolina’s offense, he racked up nearly 2,000 total yards.
Last season, the talented tailback took things to another level. With the Panthers shuffling through several quarterbacks, McCaffrey’s production skyrocketed. He finished the season with career-highs across the board. He led the NFL in touches (403), yards from scrimmage (2,392), and total touchdowns (19).
This offseason, the Panthers inked their offensive star to a record-setting contract. McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million extension that includes $38.1 million guaranteed. That deal set a new market for running backs, which certainly opened Dalvin Cook’s eyes.
Dalvin Cook is prepared to hold out for a new deal from the Vikings
The Vikings finally got a chance to see Cook shine in 2019. It couldn’t have been better timing. After starting just 14 games in his first two seasons, the former FSU star managed to stay on the field and responded with a breakout campaign.
In 14 starts, Cook racked up 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 250 carries. He also chipped in 519 yards on 53 catches. His production played a significant role in Minnesota advancing to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Heading into the final year of his rookie deal, the Vikings RB has already made it clear he’s not going to leave money on the table. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Cook will not participate in any team-related activities until he gets a “reasonable” deal.
The two sides, the Vikings and Cook, have not spoken since last week and have no further talks scheduled. Cook said he has presented what he thinks are “reasonable” proposals this offseason. The Vikings have been unwilling to meet his price.
Schefter said Cook wants to surpass David Johnson’s $13 million average annual salary. Of course, McCaffrey ranks first at $16 million per year. And that could lead to some interesting negotiations.
Minnesota would make a massive mistake by giving Cook big money
From a football standpoint, Dalvin Cook offers many of the same qualities as Christian McCaffrey. Both backs excel as pass-catchers. They possess tackle-breaking ability and quickness. However, the Vikings shouldn’t even begin to entertain paying Cook anywhere near what McCaffrey makes.
First, the Miami native has failed to stay healthy dating back to his Seminoles days. According to Sports Injury Predictor, the running back has a troubling injury history. In March 2014, he tore his shoulder labrum. Two years later, he did it again. Just a few games into his rookie season, Cook tore his ACL.
He’s also missed time with hamstring issues. Last season, he missed the Vikings’ final two games with a shoulder injury. In contrast, McCaffrey missed just one game in college. He’s played all 48 games since the Panthers drafted him in 2017.
Running backs simply don’t age well given the nature of the position. Even younger backs who have gotten lucrative second deals have rarely worked out. The Los Angeles Rams cut Todd Gurley this offseason after knee issues reduced him to a part-time player. Atlanta moved on from Devonta Freeman, another former FSU star who couldn’t stay healthy.
Dalvin Cook has just one season of top-level production under his belt. On the other hand, he has a lengthy injury history. And with so many running backs failing to live up to their second contracts, it would be a massive mistake by the Vikings to give Cook Christian McCaffrey money.
Then again, this is a franchise that’s made Kirk Cousins the highest-earning player in the NFL. Let’s see if Minnesota makes the same mistake twice.