(WCCO) — Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook topped 1,600 total yards from scrimmage in 2019 with 13 touchdowns. His first 1,000 yard season showed exactly the dominance that the Vikings had hoped they would get when they selected him with the 41st overall pick in the 2017 Draft.
Now, entering his fourth year in the league, Cook’s confidence is high. He told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he is the best running back in the NFL.
“The things I do coming out of the backfield, the things I do in between the tackles, I block, I pretty much do it all,” Cook said to the Press. “I don’t have to come off the field. I think some guys just don’t do as much as I do, and I think that’s why I’m today’s (top) back.”
Cook was seventh in the league in yards from scrimmage in 2019 behind fellow backs Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey. However, he was third among that group in receiving yards (519), and played in two fewer games than most of that list and one fewer than Henry and Fournette.
This upcoming season marks the final year of Cook’s rookie deal, which means he has begun thinking about his future. He told the paper that he has enjoyed his time in Minnesota and would like to be with the team long-term.
“I definitely love Minnesota,” said Cook. “I love everything the state has to bring. Being a kid, I was drafted (in 2017) from Miami (his hometown), so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I actually am happy where I’m at, and I would like to be in Minnesota long term.”
While his agent continues to negotiate with the team on an extension, Cook says that he will let the business take care of itself. But, with Cook’s deal getting ready to expire the question of how to value running backs in the NFL has come up again.
Just recently, fans saw one of the league’s previous top paid backs, Todd Gurley, be released by the Rams just two years into a four-year $57.5 million extension. Dallas Cowboy back Ezekiel Elliott became the league’s highest-paid back last year and was still plenty productive. But, the Jets’ Le’Veon Bell ($13 million) and now Houston Texans back David Johnson ($13 million) have been less productive.
Granted, Bell’s season was hampered by a porous Jets offensive line and no real weapons at wide receiver. So defenses were able to key in on stopping him without much worry. For Johnson and Gurley, injuries have derailed their primes since receiving those deals.
Cook, at 24, is young enough that an extension makes sense. But, he has yet to play a full 16 game season to this point in his career, suffering a torn ACL in his rookie year and nagging hamstring strains in each of the last two seasons.
Once again, an NFL team faces the question. How do you pay a running back on his second contract?