Dalvin Cook is now officially free to find a new home.
The Vikings released the running back on Friday after six seasons, the team announced.
"I hold Dalvin in the highest regard and am grateful for his contributions on and off the field. Dalvin is a tough, dynamic player and a respected leader by his teammates, which was evident by his multiple seasons as a team captain," head coach Kevin O'Connell said in a statement from the team's website. "As a finalist for the 2022 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, Dalvin's approach to the game and his commitment to sportsmanship is clearly respected across the league. We appreciate Dalvin's positivity, energy and leadership and will be pulling for him in the future."
Cook's impending departure was first reported by NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero on Thursday, with Minnesota having one last day to find a trade suitor rather than lose the four-time Pro Bowler for nothing, but such a move did not come to fruition.
Instead, the Vikes have moved another veteran off the books in an exodus of an offseason that has already seen them release wide receiver Adam Thielen and trade pass rusher Za’Darius Smith. By releasing Cook after June 1, the team saves $9 million in cap space this season and $12.5 million the following year, with $5.1 million and $3.1 million in dead money the next two years, respectively.
Even with the runaway devaluation of RBs, Cook should garner interest from multiple teams entering his age-28 season. He has run for 5,993 yards and 47 touchdowns in his career, and he showed no signs of slowing down last year while amassing 1,173 yards on the ground, his second-most in an NFL campaign.
Already, questions have been floated to coaches around the league who either have a need at the position or have a shot at a championship run that could be aided by a talent like Cook.
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh received the inquiry on Friday about a potential move, and while he deferred to general manager Joe Douglas, he did not dismiss the notion.
"Obviously, we'll turn the stones over on that one," Saleh told reporters. "But again, that'll probably be more of a Joe question. I'm not sure how the money works on that."
His Jets have catapulted themselves into Super Bowl contention after landing Aaron Rodgers from Green Bay in April. If they continued to go all in by pairing Cook with last year's No. 36 overall pick, Breece Hall, the two would immediately form one of the best duos in the league. Such an addition would also allow New York to ease Hall back from the ACL tear that cut short his promising rookie season.
The Jets' AFC East rival to the south, the Miami Dolphins, are also gearing up to contend in a division that is shaping up to be brutal. However, Fins head coach Mike McDaniel was much more flippant about the topic on Thursday.
"March 3, 1983, the day I was born, right?" McDaniel quipped when asked if Miami would look to upgrade the RB room with Cook. "Now we take a closer look at that date, and that, in fact, was not yesterday. So people that are rumored to be tall, short, people that are rumored to be, you know, you're not going to get this guy. I'm Year 2, OK? What I am excited about is talking about the most important thing which is the third day of veteran minicamp, and we've got a lot of guys that are good players that have an opportunity to get better. Answer your question?"
McDaniel went on to say that the team has already developed a "really cool group" at the position.
Although the smoke surrounding Cook to Miami might have dissipated somewhat when the club selected De’Von Achane in the third round of April's draft, there remains a nostalgic draw thanks to Cook being a Miami Central High School grad and Florida State alumnus.
With Cook now on the market for the first time in his NFL career, plenty more landing scenarios should come to the fore. Coaches will continue to be asked their opinions and dots will continue to be connected until he inks a new contract.