Dalvin Cook was a star running back for the Florida State Seminoles. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Since his arrival in the NFL, Cook’s numbers have consistently improved each season. Right before the start of the 2020 NFL season, the Pro Bowler signed a lucrative five-year extension. He has rewarded the Vikings this season and is currently the league’s leading rusher. How much does Dalvin Cook get paid and where does it rank among the NFL’s top running backs?
Dalvin Cook stars at Florida State
Dalvin Cook was a highly-touted five-star recruit coming out of high school. After initially committing to play for Clemson University, Cook flipped to the University of Florida. He never made it to Gainesville and instead ended up in Tallahassee to play for head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles.
Despite splitting carries his freshman season, Cook managed to break the 1,000-yard mark. He averaged an impressive 5.9 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Dalvin Cook was the featured back in the Florida State offensive attack. In 2015, he averaged an eye-popping 7.4 yards per carry and rushed for 1,691 yards, including 19 touchdowns. In Cook’s final year, he was equally productive, amassing 1,765 yards and 19 more touchdowns. He surpassed Warrick Dunn as the all-time leading rusher at Florida State with 4,464 yards for his career.
Dalvin Cook becomes NFL’s leading rusher
Coming into the 2017 NFL Draft, Dalvin Cook was considered by most teams to be one of the top three backs available. Despite that, numerous off-the-field problems, including prior arrests and other character concerns, caused his stock to plummet. The Minnesota Vikings selected him in the second round with the No. 41 overall pick.
Cook made an impressive debut in his first game with the Vikings rushing for 127 yards on 22 carries, breaking the previous debut rushing record set by Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived as Cook suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 and missed the remainder of the season.
After the 2018 season, which was again riddled by injuries, Dalvin Cook had his best NFL year in 2019, when he rushed for 1,135 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He also added 519 receiving yards. For all of his efforts, he earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. It was just a precursor of things to come.
This season Cook has established himself as one of the best backs in the NFL, leading the league in rushing at 122 yards per contest. He’s added 12 touchdowns, just one shy of his 2019 total. In seven games, he’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark four times, and in three of those, he’s topped the 150-yard mark. In one of the games, he surpassed 200 yards.
Cook earns a top salary after his offseason extension
After earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2019, Dalvin Cook struck while the iron was hot this past offseason, agreeing with the Vikings to a five-year, $63 million extension, with $28 million guaranteed. He received a $15.5 million signing bonus.
Cook’s $12.6 million-per-year salary puts him at fifth among current NFL backs behind Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, and David Johnson.
Dalvin Cook has only been in the NFL a few seasons, and when healthy, he’s, without question, one of the game’s best backs and worthy of his top salary. Whether or not he can stay healthy in the future is the big question. If he can, the Vikings have a workhorse that can be the cornerstone to a bright future in Minneapolis.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.