In the last year, both the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers extended their franchise running backs to massive contracts.

Before the start of the 2019 season, the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott agreed to a six-year, $90 million contract extension. In April, McCaffrey and the Panthers agreed to a four-year contract worth $64 million.

The next domino to fall could be Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. According to ESPN, Cook will not attend any team-related activities until he receives a contract extension. Although Dalvin Cook was one of the best running backs during the 2019 season, he could be waiting a while for that new contract.

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Minnesota shouldn’t give into Cook’s demands simply because he has shown the inability to remain healthy during his career. During his three seasons in the league, Cook has never played in 16 games in a season.

Last season, Cook missed two games because of a shoulder injury. In 2018, Cook played in 11 games as he missed time due to a nagging hamstring injury. As a rookie in 2017, Cook tore his ACL as he was limited to just four games.

Sure, Cook rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns and finished with 1,654 all-purpose yards and accounted for a considerable part of their offense a season ago. But paying a player who has had only one great season and injuries concerns doesn’t seem like the best recipe for success.

Cook is set to make $1.33 million in the final season of his contract, so it is understandable why he wants a new deal. The shelflife of a running back is short compared to other positions on the football field. Plus, Cook knows with his injury history, this could be his only chance to break the bank.

But if you’re the Vikings, this doesn’t financially make a lot of sense, especially with the depth in their backfield.

They may not be on Cook’s level, Ameer Abdullah, Mike Boone, Tony Brooks-James, and Alexander Mattison have the talent to make up for a big part of Cook’s production. Mattison was the Vikings’ second-best running back in 2019 with 462 yards and one touchdown on 100 carries. Abdullah has also been a contributor as a runner during his time with the Detroit Lions.

Reports are Cook is looking for at least $13 million per year, which was what the Arizona Cardinals gave David Johnson when he signed his extension in September 2018. A year later, Johnson was demoted and then traded to the Houston Texans this offseason for DeAndre Hopkins.

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NFL Leading Rushers – 2019

 
Rush Rush Rush Rush Rush
Rk Player Tm Age Pos Att Yds
TD Y/A Y/G Fmb
1 Derrick Henry* TEN 25 RB 303 1540 16 5.1 102.7 5
2 Nick Chubb* CLE 24 RB 298 1494 8 5.0 93.4 3
3 Christian McCaffrey*+ CAR 23 RB 287 1387 15 4.8 86.7 1
4 Ezekiel Elliott* DAL 24 RB 301 1357 12 4.5 84.8 3
5 Chris Carson SEA 25 RB 278 1230 7 4.4 82.0 7
6 Lamar Jackson*+ BAL 22 QB 176 1206 7 6.9 80.4 9
7 Leonard Fournette JAX 24 RB 265 1152 3 4.3 76.8 1
8 Josh Jacobs OAK 21 RB 242 1150 7 4.8 88.5 1
9 Joe Mixon CIN 23 RB 278 1137 5 4.1 71.1 0
10 Dalvin Cook* MIN 24 RB 250 1135 13 4.5 81.1 4

In July 2018, the Los Angeles Rams signed Todd to a four-year, $60 million contract extension with $45 million in guarantees. Gurley, much like Cook, has had injury concerns and failed to live up to that contract, which was why the Rams decided to release him this offseason.

Melvin Gordon took the risk of holding out even as the 2019 season began. But he eventually ended his holdout in late September despite not receiving the contract extension he sought. In the process, Austin Ekeler proved himself in Gordon’s absence, and the Chargers eventually rewarded him with a four-year, $24.5 million contract this offseason. This was after the Chargers reportedly offered Gordon as much as $10 million per year, but Gordon declined it at the time.

Cook had an excellent 2019 season, and he certainly could do that again in 2020. But he certainly doesn’t have the track record to warrant a contract in the stratosphere of Elliott and McCaffrey.

It would be in Cook’s best interest to report for training camp and play on the final year of his rookie contract. If Cook were to sit out the entire year, he would be a restricted free agent, and that could cost him millions of dollars. Cook just needs to bet on himself, and he could possibly be rewarded if not by the Vikings, by somewhere else.

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