When healthy, Dalvin Cook ranks as one of the best running backs in the NFL. However, the 25-year-old has had trouble avoiding injuries dating back to his days at FSU. In fact, since entering the league as a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Cook has played just 29 games. Yet, that did not stop the Minnesota Vikings from ensuring he will remain a part of their organization for years to come.
But by spending $63 million to lock up Cook, the Vikings just made an unforgivable mistake.
Dalvin Cook finally broke out in 2019
At Florida State, Dalvin Cook dominated as an all-purpose back. In just three years with the Seminoles, he set the school’s career rushing record with 4,464 yards to go along with 48 total touchdowns.
Even as a two-time All-American, Cook did not get selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. He slipped all the way to the 41st pick due in large part to a history of shoulder injuries and character concerns.
Still, the arrow appeared to be pointing up for the talented Miami native. Cook ran for 354 yards in four games before a torn ACL ended his promising rookie season. In 2018, Cook once again missed time with injuries. A hamstring ailment limited him to just 615 rushing yards in 11 games.
Last season, Vikings fans finally saw the best of Dalvin Cook. Though he still missed two games due to injury, he set career-highs with 1,135 rushing yards, 519 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns. Minnesota’s breakout star earned a Pro Bowl selection and entered the offseason seeking a substantial raise.
Vikings sign Cook to $63 million extension
In an offseason where running backs continue to get paid, the Vikings just added Dalvin Cook’s name to the list. On Saturday, Tom Pelissero reported via Twitter that Minnesota signed its Pro Bowl running back to a five-year, $63 million extension. The deal includes more than $28 million guaranteed—a substantial amount for someone who has played just 29 games in three years.
The extension will keep Cook in Minnesota for years to come. And while keeping an elite playmaker typically garners widespread praise, that shouldn’t be the case for the Vikings.
To put it bluntly: Minnesota just made an unforgivable $63 million mistake.
Why Minnesota just made an unforgivable mistake
Based on pure ability, Dalvin Cooks deserves to be paid like an elite running back. However, NFL teams don’t pay players on talent alone. But in the case of the Vikings, they seem to have ignored two significant factors in locking up Cook to a $63 million extension.
First, his durability history inherently makes him a risky long-term bet. Cook tore his shoulder labrum in 2014 and 2016. His rookie season ended with a torn ACL. Plus, he has missed time with hamstring and shoulder injuries since entering the NFL.
Given the significant financial investment the Vikings just made, it seems logical that Minnesota will feature Cook even more moving forward. That means he will be exposed to more hits, which only further increases his chances of suffering another injury.
Beyond Cook’s durability concerns, another factor makes his $63 million extension an unforgivable mistake. Haven’t we seen enough examples of NFL teams regretting giving running backs lucrative contract extensions?
Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, and David Johnson all signed massive deals and none of them lived up to the money. Cook has never achieved a peak like Gurley or Bell. And like Freeman and Johnson, he has spent ample time in the trainer’s room rather than on the field.
Betting on Dalvin Cook to stay healthy and live up to his $63 million deal requires a massive leap of faith. Minnesota may believe it just locked up an asset. But in reality, the Vikings just made an unforgivable financial mistake that will likely end with Cook failing to live up to his expensive contract and the team still searching for a Super Bowl ring.