FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Free agent running back Dalvin Cook is planning to sign a one-year deal worth up to $8.6 million with the New York Jets, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday night.
Cook, who turned 28 last week, was released June 8 after four straight Pro Bowl seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
The move gives Aaron Rodgers another proven playmaker and comes after the veteran quarterback volunteered to take a $35 million pay cut, creating financial flexibility to sign big-ticket players such as Cook. The veteran running back visited the Jets last month, spending almost a full day at their facility.
With No. 1 back Breece Hall returning from ACL surgery, the Jets wanted to bolster their backfield with an accomplished runner. They maintained steady interest in Cook, with coach Robert Saleh saying recently, “Obviously, you don’t want to say no to a great player.”
The Jets have said they’re optimistic about Hall’s availability for Week 1 against the Bills on Sept. 11, but he’s still on the PUP list and time is running out. Saleh professed his faith in backups Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter, but they both averaged only 3.5 yards per rush last season, ranking 58th and 59th among 59 players with at least 80 attempts, respectively. The Jets also have rookie Israel Abanikanda, a fifth-round pick out of Pitt.
Cook is still at least a week away from being able to practice as he recovers from shoulder surgery he underwent in February, a source told Schefter. His arrival to New York also will be delayed as he’s expecting to become a first-time father soon.
Cook is another high-profile player for the Jets, who revamped their traditionally moribund offense by trading for Rodgers, signing wide receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman and changing coordinators.
In Cook they get one of the most prolific runners in the league. Since 2019, he has averaged 111 scrimmage yards per game, second only to the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry (126). Cook has a one-cut style that should fit nicely in the Jets’ outside zone running scheme. The Jets, who haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2015, get a back with four straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Dalvin Cook has four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. That’s welcomed news for the Jets, who have the NFL’s second-longest active drought without a 1,000-yard rusher:
“He’s been a dynamic ball carrier for a long time,” Saleh said.
But he arrives with some question marks. Having battled chronic shoulder injuries since college, Cook underwent surgery Feb. 14, and he’s coming off his least efficient season.
Despite a separated shoulder last season, he played every game. While Cook rushed for 1,173 yards in 2022, his per-carry average was a career-low 4.4. He led the NFL with 62 carries for a loss or no gain and only 34.5% of his carries gained a positive total of yards over expectation, per Next Gen Stats, the second-lowest rate among running backs with at least 200 carries in 2022.
In 2021, a former girlfriend filed a lawsuit against him, alleging physical and emotional abuse. He then filed a defamation suit against her. Both cases are pending. The Star-Tribune reported last month that he offered her $1 million to clear him of wrongdoing despite her previously sworn abuse allegations against him.
Saleh, commenting on his sit-down with Cook, called him “a very good young man. He has a plan, he knows exactly what he wants and it was a really good discussion.”