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Robert Saleh on Dalvin Cook signing: 'We did what we felt was best for the team at that point'

Dalvin Cook’s tenure with the Jets didn’t turn out how either side thought it would.

The perennial Pro Bowl running back joined New York prior to the 2023-24 season to not just give them depth at the position, but a potential two-headed rushing attack alongside Breece Hall.

What resulted was 214 rushing yards on 67 attempts for the 28-year-old, and the Jets officially releasing Cook on Wednesday in a mutual parting that will allow him to join a playoff-bound team.

“Just good business for everyone,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters Wednesday, explaining the team's decision. “Dalvin’s been an incredible teammate since he’s walked in here. Obviously, it hasn’t gone the way any of us wanted. He’s been an unbelievable teammate, an unbelievable mentor to the young guys. I know he’s hurting, not physically but just wanting to be out there to help the team.

“He’s put aside all his frustrations and shown up with a smile on his face, energy in practice …and he’s been an unbelievable teammate. Whatever opportunity he gets I know he’s going to be great.”

Saleh said that the reason it didn’t work out for Cook with the Jets was two-fold. First, the plan for Cook was to back up Hall, who would see the bulk of the carries if he was healthy -- Hall was coming off of ACL surgery. The second was how the offense went through a “significant lull” in the middle of the season.

With offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as the man behind that lull this season, Saleh said he has confidence that the former Broncos coach could improve the offense next year.

“I have a lot of faith in him,” Saleh said of Hackett. “Starting with the Atlanta game, through tape, seeing a lot of improvement. We had two 30-plus point games. I thought we moved the ball against Cleveland, had a bad game against Miami. Felt like the offense took a step in the right direction against Atlanta. I know the points weren’t there but there was a lot of opportunity to be had in that game. I do feel we’ve gotten better, especially through this last half of the season.”

The Jets rank 31st in overall offense, averaging 269.5 yards a game with just 21 offensive touchdowns. They also rank 28th in rushing yards per game (91.4) and 31st in rushes (21.6).

With Cook signing a one-year, $7.8 million deal in the offseason, Saleh was asked if the team regretted using that money for a player they eventually waived instead of a quarterback or offensive lineman that could have impacted this team more.

The third-year Jets coach was resolute in his response.

“We did what we felt was best for the team at that point,” he said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”

The Jets (6-10) close out the season against the New England Patriots on Sunday.