Dalvin Cook being released by the Vikings: Finding opportunities for the Pro Bowl running back as the team allegedly moves on

Cook was allegedly released by Minnesota on Thursday.

The Minnesota Vikings are releasing star running back Dalvin Cook, as originally reported by NFL Media, in a move that many were anticipating. The main motivation behind this decision was financial because, according to Spotrac, Cook was entitled to base salaries of $10.4 million this season, $11.9 million in 2024, and $12.9 million in 2025. With this deal, the Vikings free up $9 million in salary space.

Due to his contract, the 27-year-old’s availability to the Vikings was limited. The Vikings are anticipated to make one final attempt to trade Cook before the end of business today, according to ESPN. If no taker is found, his official release would be processed on Friday.

In each of the last four seasons, Cook has qualified for the Pro Bowl and has run for at least 1,135 yards. He is the first NFL player to have rushed for 1,110 yards or more every year over the previous four.

For the first time in his career, Cook participated in a complete season in 2022, rushing for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Cook ranks third in terms of running yards (5,024), rushing touchdowns (43) and first downs (258) since the start of 2019.

With running backs Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu, and DeWayne McBride, the Vikings are finally prepared to advance. In the summer, Minnesota re-signed Mattison to a two-year deal worth $7 million, with an option for $8 million and $6.35 million in guarantees.

With 5,993 yards rushing, Cook leaves the Vikings as the third-leading rusher in team history, behind only Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith. His 47 rushing touchdowns place him fourth all-time for the Vikings. Cook will probably attract a large number of suitors now that he is available. Let’s take a look at five possible destinations for one of the top running backs in the NFL.

1. Miami Dolphins

Long considered one of Cook’s top landing spots, the Dolphins. He was raised in Florida; he was born in Opa-locka and attended Miami Central for high school sports. In a recent article from The Miami Herald, it was stated that the Dolphins may be “a real possibility” for Cook if he were to be released, and you have to assume that going back to his hometown would appeal to him. It was special for Cook that the Vikings were able to play in Miami last season.

In his words, “This is what I dreamed about, this is a kid’s dream, just living in it, trying to take advantage of the moment,” Cook told SI.com. “If you know me, you know that I just enjoy myself. I make an effort to savor each moment because, man, you never get another one. We only play Miami every few years, so we have to make the most of these opportunities.

With Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Devon Achane, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and Chris Brooks on the roster, the Dolphins may not actually have a need at running back, but head coach Mike McDaniel won’t let that stop him from looking into the possibility. He had success implementing the run-first strategy with the San Francisco 49ers, and he wants Miami to do so more effectively in 2023 than it did in 2022.

2. Buffalo Bills

James Cook, Damien Harris, Nyheim Hines, and Latavius Murray are the Bills’ current running back choices, but Cook would be an immediate improvement. In each of the last four seasons, Cook has surpassed 1,110 yards. The Bills’ last 1,110-yard rusher was LeSean McCoy in 2017, and their top rusher over the previous four years is now with the Houston Texans.

Cook joining forces with his younger sibling and signing with a respectable rival are also possibilities.

3. Chicago Bears

To begin with, the Bears have the cap room to sign Cook, who caused enough of problems for Chicago while playing for Minnesota. Cook would be a better option than the Bears’ current backfield, which consists of youngster Roschon Johnson, D’Onta Foreman, and Khalil Herbert.

Cook would seamlessly integrate into the Bears’ offensive scheme. He would get the opportunity to run behind a new offensive line that features rookie first-round choice Darnell Wright. Additionally, Cook would team up with quarterback Justin Fields, who is anticipated to have a breakout year.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Arizona has the budgetary room to buy Cook. Behind James Conner, who given his history of injuries would benefit from having a running back of Cook’s caliber to share a backfield with, they also have a need at running back.

The Cardinals’ offense would become one of the best in the NFL if Cook were to join the team. Paris Johnson Jr., one of the best lineman selected in the draft, was acquired by the Cardinals, like Chicago. In addition to having a great young quarterback in Kyler Murray, Arizona also has a talented receiving group, lead by Marquise Brown now that DeAndre Hopkins has been released by the team.

5. San Francisco 49ers

For coach Kyle Shanahan, having Cook in the 49ers’ offense would be like playing Madden on the beginner’s level. Given the injury history of Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell and Shanahan’s desire for depth at running back, Cook would also provide him with an abundance of riches on offense.

Shanahan witnessed Terrell Davis trample opponents 25 years ago while working with Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike, to win two championships. Cook would perform a similar feat with the younger Shanahan while utilizing the same zone blocking strategy that Davis liked.