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The Vikings Release Their Star Running Back

The Minnesota Vikings are parting ways with star running back Dalvin Cook, per reports. If they can’t trade him by Friday, the Vikings will release him. Releasing Cook would ease cap pressure, saving $9 million in cap space. Cook has had four consecutive 1,000+ yard rushing seasons. The Vikings will have a new starting running back, 24-year-old Alexander Mattison, who has been backing up Cook. Mattison signed a 2-year, $7 million contract in March and has shown promise when filling in for Cook in the past.

USA Today: Minnesota Vikings release star running back Dalvin Cook after 6 years

Anthony Gharib; June 8, 2023

The Minnesota Vikings are parting ways with Dalvin Cook, with the franchise officially releasing the star running back Friday.

The four-time Pro Bowler is coming off his fourth consecutive season with more than 1,000 rushing yards.

Cook signed a five-year, $63 million deal in 2020. He was owed $2 million upon his release.

Had Minnesota decided to keep Cook, his deal would have left the Vikings with a $14.1 million cap hit for 2023. But the team instead will save $9 million in cap space by releasing Cook after June 1, a move that became a likelihood as the offseason went on.

“Dalvin has been an incredible leader for this organization for years, and I quickly noticed how respected he is among everyone in our building,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a release. “I’m fortunate to have been around such an enjoyable, talented and hardworking person like him over the last year. He’s etched his name in Vikings history with his production on the field but also by consistently giving back to the Vikings Foundation. We are thankful for everything Dalvin brought to the Vikings and sincerely wish him all the best in his future.”

Cook should have various suiters around the league including the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Through six seasons, Cook’s 5,993 total rushing yards ranks third on Minnesota’s all-time leaderboard. His 47 rushing touchdowns are among the top five in Vikings franchise history. He’s also run for the fourth-most yards among active players since 2017. The decision to move on from Cook means the Vikings will have a new starting running back for the first time since the 2016 season.

“I hold Dalvin in the highest regard and am grateful for his contributions on and off the field. Dalvin is a tough, dynamic player and a respected leader by his teammates, which was evident by his multiple seasons as a team captain,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said in a release. “As a finalist for the 2022 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, Dalvin’s approach to the game and his commitment to sportsmanship is clearly respected across the league. We appreciate Dalvin’s positivity, energy and leadership and will be pulling for him in the future.”

Now, the reins will be handed off to 24-year-old running back Alexander Mattison. Minnesota signed Mattison to a two-year, $7 million contract in March with the intention that he would become the franchise’s new starting running back.

He’s spent four years backing up Cook, finishing with at least 400 rushing yards in three of those seasons. He had a career low in yards and touches last season, but ran for five touchdowns, second-most on the team behind Cook.

Mattison showed promise when filling in for Cook in games the running back missed due to injury. In two of the four games Cook missed during the 2021 season, Mattison ran for at least 100 yards. His production declined last season with Cook playing in each game.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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