Cook, who is scheduled to make $14.1 million thanks to a contract extension signed under former GM Rick Spielman in 2020, is not expected to be with Minnesota for the upcoming season. The soon-to-be 28-year-old’s pricey salary is a significant factor in the team’s thinking, per Seifert.
The team has been preparing for a post-Cook era at running back for months. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed the team’s No. 2 running back Alexander Mattison to a new contract in free agency that is set to guarantee him $6.35 million over the next two seasons. Mattison’s return to Minnesota was uncertain heading into free agency, but his return was predicated on an “understanding” of the team’s plans for him moving forward. Additionally, coach Kevin O’Connell stated that Mattison has demonstrated “all three-down ownership that he’s been capable of for a long time.”
Considering the cost of re-signing Mattison, it appears that Minnesota is readying for him to take over the lead role in the backfield from Cook, who is third on the franchise’s career rushing yards list.
Seifert notes that there had been speculation that the league’s release of salary cap space on post-June 1 moves could spark a trade for Cook. However, Cook remains a member of the Vikings through that deadline, and could now be released.
While Adofo-Mensah told media members that Cook and Mattison could “in theory” play together next season, Seifert reported that it seems “likely, if not completely certain” that Minnesota will move on from its franchise running back.
In six seasons with the Vikings, Cook has rushed for 5,993 yards and 47 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt.