June 1 has come and gone. The ability to spread the cap hit over two years has arrived. Other teams with previous June 1 cuts have realized the cap relief from the official departure of the player’s salary from the roster.
The stage is set for a potential trade of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook.
The handwriting has been on the wall for weeks. The Vikings have decided to make a value play for Alexander Mattison, who has played well when called upon to do so during his first four NFL seasons. He’s not a home-run hitter like Cook, but in an offense that looks to be ready to focus on the passing game, the Vikings can take the position that Cook is a luxury they don’t need to afford.
Think of it this way. Are the Vikings a Super Bowl contender? If not, why not save money and refocus the offensive efforts toward other skillsets possessed by the likes of Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, K.J. Osborne, and first-round rookie Jordan Addison?
As noted by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, Mattison has served not as a complement to Cook but an injury replacement. On five occasions, Mattison received more than 20 carries in a game, when Cook was unable to play.
In those five games, Mattison rushed for 522 yards, an average of 104.4 yards per game.
That extrapolates to a 1,774-yard season, assuming he can handle the week-in and week-out grind of being the starter.
With so many weapons in the passing game, the Vikings might not need 20 carries from Mattison. Regardless, he has shown he can get it done -- and he re-signed for a lot less money than they’re due to pay Cook.
So where will Cook go? If there’s a team that will pay him the $10.4 million he’s due to make this year -- and to give the Vikings something for the contract -- the deal could be done. As soon as today.
Still, regardless of any analytics-based justification for moving on from Cook, the Vikings will miss him. And his next team could end up being very glad to have him.