O’Connell hesitant to comment on Cook’s future

Mike Florio and Chris Simms take a deep dive on Dalvin Cook’s current situation with the Vikings and discuss Minnesota’s options if they look to replace the RB.

Video Transcript

KEVIN O'CONNELL: I can just tell you what Dalvin meant to me not only in year one as one of our core leaders of our team but also just the impact he had on the field, you know? His consistency, his toughness, durability, playing through some different things, and consistently being out there for us in critical moments and just some of the huge plays that he made right alongside Kirk and Justin and the rest of our offensive players really will never be lost on me. But we want what's best for Dalvin, and Dalvin knows that, and we continue to work through that situation knowing that the respect that the Minnesota Vikings and our organization have for Dalvin has been earned.

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But it's more than that, Mike. It's-- we care about obviously the player. And ultimately, he's under contract and very much something that I don't take for granted having had Dalvin Cook on this team and what that's meant to me as a coach here in year one.

- Lots of past tense trickling in, as Pete Damilatis points out.

- It really is. I mean, yeah.

- He knows which way the wind's blowing. We all do. We all do. Look, I asked him in that same interview about Justin Jefferson.

- Yeah.

- And there was no hesitation. No timeline on getting a contract done, but he's going to be a Minnesota Viking. That's never going to change. He's going to be here. And then when it's Dalvin Cook, it's all very measured and appreciation.


- Yeah.

- I think it's as simple--

- So, why? Where is this-- why are we at this here? I'm just-- I'm a little surprised by this.

- I think it's as simple as Dalvin Cook is due to make $10.4 million--

- Right.

- --in salary this year. $2 million of it's already fully guaranteed, but it doesn't matter. It's subject to offset. If they cut him, he's going to get his $2 million somewhere else. This is about, at this stage of his career, is it worth it dollar for dollar to pay him $10 million when you've got Alexander Mattison? And they like Ty Chandler, who's 25, but he's only in his second season.

- Yeah.


- So, we go younger. We go cheaper, and we devote the resources elsewhere, like to signing Justin Jefferson. So, I think it's as simple as that.

And the problem is, whatever they would be willing to offer Dalvin Cook less than 10.4, he probably doesn't want. He probably has a point where he would just like his freedom. So he'll take even less than that to go somewhere else.

- Yeah.

- He's just going to say, no. How about we pay you six? No.

How about we pay you seven? No. And I don't know--

- Yeah.

- --what their max is.

- What their--

- I don't know what their max is.

- Or what he can get on the free market.


- But I just get the feeling that whatever they have suggested so far--

- He said no.

- --isn't enough. Yeah.

- And it's just a matter of time before he's traded with a contract revision, or he's just cut loose because otherwise, what we would have heard from Kevin O'Connor last week would have been more--

- Yeah.

- --unconditional, unequivocal, unambiguous he's going to be here.

- I mean, I get all that you're saying there. I get it. I do.

You know, I understand the position, and we just talked about it in the first segment of the show with Jahmyr Gibbs and the value of the running back or the lack of value because of the car crashes and injuries and all that too. But at the same time, like, $10 million for a guy that-- I mean, there's only a few that can just run down the sidelines for an 80 yard touchdown like we just talked about with Jahmyr Gibbs. I mean, you don't beat the Bills unless he runs 80 yards down the sidelines.


- Three moments last year. Let me start with the Dolphins.

- Go ahead.

- Because there's a lot of people who think he's going to end up in Miami. I don't know that there's a spot for him there.

- Yeah.

- But he's good enough that maybe you make one.

- Right.

- He supplied like a 55 yard dagger to beat the Dolphins--

- I remember.

- --when he was still in Dallas.

- Yeah.

- Boom.

- Right up the middle.

- Right.

- Yeah, right, I got it.

- Down 27-10.

- Right.

- Third quarter against the--

- They don't score quick, they're not going to come back.

- 80 yard touchdown, one of those moments where you're like, well, this just got a little more interesting.


- They're still in this.

- Yeah, they're still going to lose--

- Right.

- --but--

- Exactly. Exactly.

- And then the Colts, the greatest comeback in NFL history. What tied the game up and sent it to overtime? Dalvin Cook with the screen pass, jailbreak, gone, touchdown.

- So-- and look. And I know Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the GM of the Vikings, is big into analytics. But Kwesi, if you're watching, first of all, thank you. Second of all, who are you going to replace this guy with? I understand the idea of going dollar for dollar cheaper. And I know that when Dalvin Cook has been injured over the past few years, Alexander Mattison has done a good job.


- He has.

- He's still not that home run hitter. And maybe they think--

- Yeah.

- --maybe they think they can get by without. They got Madison signed to a very favorable deal. Not much money there.

They have Ty Chandler. And maybe they're willing to go with those guys because look at what they've invested into the passing game. Maybe the message here is, we're really not going to be running it all that much.

We've got Justin Jefferson. We've got TJ Hockenson at tight end. We added Jordan Addison with a first round pick.

KJ Osborne is a guy that Kevin O'Connell was very positive and glowing about. So, maybe they're just going to make do with Alexander Mattison and Ty Chandler and not expect any big plays from the backfield, any of those 80 yard catch and run or handoff and off he goes, and just rely upon the passing game. Pass to set up the run, build a lead, and then pound away with Madison and Chandler. That may be what they're trying to do. And now that the defense is better, they can get away with it.


- Yeah.

- We'll see. We'll see. It's a hell of a risk. But it sure feels like Dalvin Cook isn't going to be there.

- It does seem that way. I'm still-- listen, I get it. I get it.

I know. It's easy for me to sit here on a table and talk to you, and it's not my $10 million, and I'm not running the team. And he has a shoulder thing, like you've talked about.

- Shoulder's fine now.

- Right.

- He's been playing with one shoulder. Now he's playing with two.

- Right.

- His agent says that all the time.

- I know, right, until he has to take on Micah Parsons in the hole. And then there's-- got back to one. So, that could be scary, right?


But yeah, things seem like they're on the up and up there. I'm one to sit here just as a guy who sits here on the outside like you and evaluates and watches and all that to go, I don't know. I'd have a hard time letting him go anywhere right now.

You know, I still think you're a team that's going to have to rely on the offense and points and yards and all that. You know, yeah, the defense will be better, but how much better? I don't think it's going to be dominant that way.

And you know, like you're talking about, he's special in the fact that he could change the scoreboard in a hurry. There's only a few of them in football. And I know it's $10 million, right, and it's $10 million in cash.

But they only-- like, dead cap, what, it's like eight something, right? They're not going to save a ton of money cap-wise. To me, when I balance those things out, I'd go, huh, I think I'd keep the player right now for one more year. That's kind of where I land, but that's a tough one at that position. i know that.

- The other side of it too is, does he really want to be there?

- That's true. Right.

- It's easy for him to kind of fade into the background and not say anything when he knows that things are being worked out behind the scenes that quite possibly will result in him being gone. He doesn't have to take a stand. Maybe he's made his wishes known that he's ready to move on and they're just trying to be as coy as they can be about it so they can trade him just like they traded Za'Darius Smith.

- Yeah.

- Maybe they can do one of those grains of rice, grains of sand balance out the-- you us a fourth round pick this year, we'll give you a fifth round pick next year, and you give us a sixth round pick this year, we'll give you a seventh round pick next year, and they get some value. They move on from the $2 million. But they're going to avoid the $2 million easily because, I mean, I don't know.

At this point, the longer you hold him, the less he's going to get on the open market. Seats are going to fill up. If the Dolphins are interested, they used a third round pick--

- Well, that's--

- --on a running back.

- Yeah.

- I just don't-- and they got Raheem Mostert, and they've got several very good running backs. You know how? how about this? I hadn't thought about this. But if you would trade him to the Dolphins, maybe you get one of those running backs--

- Yeah, get him--

- --back from Miami.

- Right.

- And then that's how you replace Dalvin Cook.

- Trade's one thing. I mean, you know, you're bringing up an element where trade, yeah, OK. He's going to see his money.

The release thing's a different thing there. I don't know. I mean, was he going to get released and get a $10 million payday from somebody on the open market? I don't know if that will happen either.

- And I'm not sure if he's traded, he walks through the door with--

- And gets a contract, right.

- I think he's going to have to redo his contract, which complicates the trade.

- Yeah, yeah. I would that's a possibility. Or if it stays as is, does the team that wants to trade for him ask the Vikings to pay a little bit of the contract altogether? I think there's a lot of things that are probably on the table here as far as figuring this situation out. But yeah, where he ends up, all that, hey, we know it's down the downward slope. But damn, this is still one of the most explosive running backs in all of football.