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Dalvin Cook informs Vikings he will report to camp despite not having a new contract

Nfl: Nfc Wild Card Minnesota Vikings At New Orleans Saints
Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

Dalvin Cook’s threat to stay away from the Vikings until he received a new contract evidently will only apply to the virtual portion of the offseason.

Coach Mike Zimmer said on a videoconference Saturday afternoon that Cook informed him he will report for the start of training camp on Tuesday in Eagan, even though the running back has yet to get a new contract. Cook is entering the fourth and final season of his rookie deal and stopped participating in the Vikings’ “virtual” offseason program in June.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported at that time that Cook would no longer take part in any team-related activities until and unless he received a “reasonable deal,” according to a source. “Without a reasonable extension, he will not be showing up for camp or beyond,” the source told Schefter.

But apparently that is no longer the case. Cook is only due to make $1.3 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract, but he has good reason to show up for the start of camp. That’s because under the terms of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, if Cook misses the opening day of camp he would not get credit for the fourth season he needs to become an unrestricted free agent. That means, if a new deal isn’t done, Cook would be a restricted free agent after the 2020 season, making it easy for the Vikings to keep him from the payday he wants.

The Vikings did make a contract offer this offseason to Cook, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, but it was for less than $10 million per season. The Cook camp, not surprisingly, rejected it after initially proposing a deal that in the same range as what Carolina gave running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey signed a four-year extension this spring that averages $16 million a season. More recently, the Tennessee Titans signed running back Derrick Henry to an extension that averages $12.5 million per season and is for four years. That’s probably about as well as Cook is going to do, if the Vikings would even go that high.

Cook’s value comes in the fact that he not only is a top running back, but also has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield and is effective in pass protection. The Vikings’ concerns are likely based on how short the career of most NFL running backs are and the fact that Cook has yet to play a full 16-game season in his first three years.