After several months of on-and-off negotiations, the Vikings and star running back Dalvin Cook have agreed to a five-year, $63 million contract extension with over $28 million guaranteed, as first reported by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
Cook gets a signing bonus of $15.5 million, which Pelissero points out is the largest for a non-quarterback in Vikings franchise history. The average annual value is $12.6 million, which is more than Derrick Henry got and very briefly put Cook among the top five highest-paid running backs in the league (until Alvin Kamara's extension with the Saints was announced just minutes later).
This has to be a relief for Cook, who finally gets his new contract roughly 24 hours prior to the start of the 2020 season. His value to the Vikings would have depreciated as soon as he took the field in Week 1 against the Packers without an extension, so getting this done now works out well for him and his side.
It also works out for the Vikings, who continue their recent tradition of getting extensions done with their homegrown star players. They've now got Cook under contract through the 2025 season. All throughout this offseason, GM Rick Spielman talked about wanting to get something done with Cook because of his importance to this team on and off of the field.
Now, just before the clock struck midnight on this offseason, the deal is done. The Vikings have rewarded Cook for his breakout 2019 season and the impact he has made as a leader on this team. Cook now has financial security and can go into this season without the thought of entering free agency next year nagging at the back of his mind.
This is the end to a long saga that began this summer and stretched up until the day before the season starts. Back in June, Cook announced that he would be holding out from all upcoming team activities because he felt the Vikings had yet to make a "reasonable" offer on a new deal. But the new CBA essentially prevents holdouts, so Cook wound up reporting to training camp anyways and has said all the right things throughout this process.
The issue was that there was a major gap in Cook's asking price and what the Vikings were willing to spend. The inability to bridge that gap eventually led to negotiations breaking off in mid-August. It was beginning to see like Cook would have to play out the final season of his rookie contract, making just around $2 million, and then would either hit free agency or be franchise-tagged in 2021.
But eventually, the two sides reached an agreement and Cook will remain in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. It appears to be the Vikings who caved, because Cook receiving $12.6 million in average annual value isn't far off from his side's initial asking price of around $13 million. The Vikings reportedly were only offering $8-10 million per year for most of this offseason, but Cook's side didn't budge.
In the end, the Vikings conceded and raised their offer in order to get something done. While there's an ongoing debate about the value of running backs in the modern game, they recognize how important Cook is to their run-heavy offense and what he also provides as a receiver and a leader.
Here's how Cook now stacks up with the highest-paid running backs in the NFL in average money:
- Christian McCaffrey ($16M)
- Ezekiel Elliott ($15M)
- Alvin Kamara ($15M)
- Le'Veon Bell ($13.125M)
- David Johnson ($13M)
- Dalvin Cook ($12.6M)
- Derrick Henry ($12.5M)
- Joe Mixon (12M)
The Vikings drafted Cook out of Florida State in the second round back in 2017. He has only played in 29 of a possible 48 regular season games since then due to various injuries, but broke out with over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in 14 games last season.
In order to create salary cap space for this move, the Vikings have restructured Eric Kendricks' contract. More details here.
"I love Minnesota, this is where I want to be at, and I'm happy I got this deal done," Cook said. "Now let's go win a championship."
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