Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Saturday afternoon that Dalvin Cook had told him he would report for the start of training camp — and end his offseason holdout — even though the running back did not have a new contract. On Saturday evening, Cook’s agent said no such conversation between Zimmer and the running back had taken place.
Dalvin Cook’s agent, Zac Hiller: “First, congrats to Coach Zimmer on his well-earned extension. However, Dalvin has not spoken to him in regards to reporting to camp. We are unsure why this was said. I hope Dalvin can continue to play a major role in the Vikings future success.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 25, 2020
So what’s going on here? That’s a good question and one that won’t be answered until Vikings’ veterans report Tuesday for training camp in Eagan. Cook is entering the fourth and final season of his rookie deal and stopped participating in the Vikings’ “virtual” offseason program in June.
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 in June.
Cook is only due to make $1.3 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract and wants wants a new deal. However, he has good reason to show up for the start of camp. 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 was in the same range to 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.
It should be noted that in his conversation with Schefter on Saturday, Hiller never said Cook was not going to show up for camp, only that Cook never talked to Zimmer about reporting for camp.