How Much Should the Vikings Pay Dalvin Cook?

Photo: SI.com


Nobody would call you crazy should you argue Dalvin Cook is the best running back in the NFL. If you can explain away injuries that have cropped up throughout his career, it’d be difficult to deny… In fact, if the Vikings force-fed Cook to the point of death, like the Panthers do with McCaffrey, then it’d probably be undeniable.

As we talked about in today’s episode of the Bleeding Purple Podcast, Dalvin is unquestionably in a very small group of elite NFL running backs… all of which are currently set to make a lot more money than he is…



In fact, Christian McCaffrey just agreed to a new deal on Monday that will make him the highest paid running back in the NFL, surpassing Ezekiel Elliott’s $15M/year deal.

I continue to reiterate the shock I will have if Dalvin Cook takes the field for the Vikings this season under his current deal, which leaves one year left before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He is set to be the 39th highest-paid RB in the league. Let’s take a look at his stats and contract compared to the other elite backs in the league.


Dalvin Cook – Vikings


YearGamesRush YDSRush TDRECAP YDS
2019141,13513531,654
Career (3 SZNs)292,104171043,018
Pro-Football-Reference

Average Salary: 1.6M/Year – Final Year of Rookie Contract



Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers


YearGamesRush YDSRush TDRECAP YDS
2019161,387151162,392
Career (3 SZNs)482,920243035,443
Pro-Football-Reference

Average Salary: 16M/Year – Extended Monday (After 3rd Season)



Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys

YearGamesRush YDSRush TDRECAP YDS
2019161,35712541,777
Career (4 SZNs)565,405401897,024
Pro-Football-Reference

Average Salary: 15M/Year – Extended After 3rd Season



Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans


YearGamesRush YDSRush TDRECAP YDS
2019151,54016181,746
Career (4 SZNs)623,83338574,411
Pro-Football-Reference

Average Salary: $10.3M/Yr – Franchise Tag



The last RB mentioned in this list, is the biggest example for why Dalvin shouldn’t wait for his payday. Derrick Henry was one of the best backs in the league last year. He isn’t the back Dalvin is overall, especially in today’s game because he isn’t a real threat out of the backfield, but he’s all the Titans have, nonetheless.

After leading the league in rushing for 2019, Henry was rewarded with the franchise tag instead of a new long-term deal. If Cook waits until next year for a new deal, that will be an option for the Vikings as well. If he wants long term security, waiting isn’t the choice to take.

With the draft still yet to play out, the Vikings have about $12M in cap left to play with. Even with Rob Brzezinski’s maneuvering, it’ll be difficult to fill holes outside the draft and extend Dalvin.

Cook won’t cost what McCaffrey did and nobody should. The numbers show McCaffrey is the most relied upon back in the NFL. However, Dalvin is right up there with anyone behind him. If Zeke is getting $15M, then shouldn’t Cook?

Maybe not… Zeke didn’t have the injury issues that Dalvin has had to this point of his career. But as I already said, he deserves more, or at least as much as, Derrick Henry. What does that mean? $12M-$13M AAV?

That number sounds about right… but will Rob be able to fit Dalvin under the salary cap for 2020 at that annual value? $12-13M won’t be the number he has to get under… but how low can he get 2020 without ruining the future books?

That’ll be the question. Either way, it probably would have been smarter to extend Cook before McCaffery got his big payday.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan