Potential landing spots for Vikings star Dalvin Cook

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The Minnesota Vikings have begun gutting some of the veterans from their roster, and star running back Dalvin Cook could be the next out the door. 

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, multiple teams believe Minnesota has held trade talks for Cook. On Wednesday, Minnesota re-signed 24-year-old RB Alexander Mattison, who has been effective when given a sizeable workload and might become the starter this season.

In 2023, Cook’s cap hit is  $14.1 million, followed by $15.6 million in 2024 and $13.5 million in 2025. He’ll be a free agent in 2026 and doesn’t intend to take a pay cut. 

Here are three potential fits for the four-time Pro Bowler if Minnesota decides to trade him:

Atlanta Falcons

A prominent rushing attack under HC Arthur Smith could be the perfect spot to maximize Cook’s remaining productive seasons. Only Philadelphia averaged more rushing attempts per game than Atlanta last season, and the Falcons should remain near the top of the league in rushing attempts in 2023.

Atlanta had the highest-graded run-blocking unit by Pro Football Focus last season (83.7), and it just re-signed guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary to long-term deals. 

RBs Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier are still on the roster. Nevertheless, Cook could replace Patterson, who was phased out of the offense toward the end of the season as Allgeier emerged as a productive contributor. As a rookie, Allgeier, a fifth-round pick, was seventh among NFL RBs in yards per carry (4.9). 

With the second-most cap space in the NFL, Atlanta can afford Cook’s lucrative contract, and a wide-open NFC South could give him another chance to make the playoffs. 

Buffalo Bills

RB Devin Singletary, the only Bills player with more rushing yards than QB Josh Allen since 2018, is a free agent, and it’s unclear if he’ll return. Cook’s younger brother, James, flashed as a rookie for Buffalo last season, but he might not excel as a three-down back.

The older Cook will eventually be better fit to serve as a complementary back, and what better successor to act as a mentor to than his brother? Buffalo restructured Allen’s and OLB Von Miller’s contracts Monday, freeing $32 million in cap space. More salaries will likely be adjusted, creating ample room for Cook’s contract.

Buffalo hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since LeSean McCoy in 2017. Cook, who has surpassed 1,100 yards rushing in his past four seasons, could end the streak. He may be the missing piece for Allen’s Bills to finally reach the Super Bowl. 

Chicago Bears

After trading the No. 1 overall pick for a significant return, the Bears have made several splashes in the early stages of free agency. However, they did lose running back David Montgomery to the Lions on Tuesday and must replace his 801 rushing yards from last season. 

As GM Ryan Poles builds an offense tailored to QB Justin Fields’ strengths, he’ll need to bring in a talented running back to ease Fields’ rushing workload. By adding Cook to a backfield with Fields and RB Khalil Herbert, there’s a real possibility the Bears would lead the league in rushing for a second consecutive season. 

Although it might be challenging to reach an agreement with a division rival, Chicago has the draft picks and a surplus of cap space to facilitate a worthwhile trade. A combination of their multiple picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds should suffice, considering the recent trade returns of various stars around the NFL.

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