The Minnesota Vikings have officially informed star running back Dalvin Cook that the team has released him. With the re-signing of Alexander Mattison, rumors of the Vikings trying to trade Cook have been floating around the league. It was only a matter of time before Cook was no longer a Viking, not having the same production last season as his previous seasons. The Vikings still guarantee Cook $2 million, but with the Vikings releasing Cook after June 1st, they officially save $9 million in cap space, with $5 million in dead money. Dalvin Cook has arguably been one of the best running backs in Vikings franchise history. Cook finishes his tenure with Minnesota 3rd all-time in rushing yards, with 5,993 yards, and 4th all-time in rushing TDs, with 47 TDs. Cook also produced 4 consecutive seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards and managed to stay healthy for a whole season for the first time in his career in 2022. Despite Cook having arguably one of his best seasons in a Vikings uniform last year, his efficiency was the concern. NFL’s Next Gen Stats program showed the dip in Cook’s efficiency through the number of his carries that actually resulted in positive yardage. According to Next Gen Stats, that number was only 34.5% in 2022, the lowest of his career. Cook also fumbled the football 4 times last season, which ties for the second most in his career. Cook taking a pay cut immediately seemed far-fetched once Mattison resigned. With the talent that Cook possesses, it would be extremely weird to ask your star running back to take a pay cut, with him knowing damn well that his replacement just inked a 2-year deal with the team. Mattison and Cook never regularly split carries during Mattison’s first 4 seasons, as Mattison was seen as the injury replacement for Cook, who was extremely injury prone. On the occasions that Mattison got to play, whether it was starting or letting Cook rest for a few plays, he showed that he was starting material, which the Vikings clearly saw. The big reason we are seeing this news now, rather than months ago, when the rumors of a Dalvin Cook trade began, is because of the cap space that was mentioned before. If the Vikings waited til after June 1st, then they would save $9 million in cap space. Waiting as long as the Vikings did obviously had its benefits to the organization, but what does Cook get from it? Cook saw his name on the trade block AND chopping block for the past 2 months, but that also extended to the end of the Vikings’ season in January. The media coverage is clearly beneficial to Cook, as the exposure to other NFL teams is the best thing for him to go out and be approached by those teams. The biggest concern for teams looking to pick up Cook is of course his health. Last season was the first time Cook had made it through a whole season without an injury. Despite making it through the season healthy, Cook would have shoulder surgery in February, which kept him out of the Vikings’ voluntary minicamps throughout April, May, and the beginning of OTAs in June. The Vikings stated that Cook should be back for the regular season for whatever team he wishes to join, but with his history of injuries, and recent surgery, teams could be hesitant to pick up Cook immediately. Cook has been linked to the Bills and Dolphins the most out of any other NFL teams throughout the past few months. The Bills have been a link purely because his brother, James Cook, plays for the Bills. The Dolphins have been an option, as they expressed interest in trading for Cook early into free agency when Cook was being shopped around, and with Cook being a Florida native that went to Florida State, he might want to return home. Dalvin Cook will always have a home in Minnesota, but for now, his chapter here has come to an end. Where will Cook end up next? Who knows, but wherever he goes, we will surely see him tearing up the field as he did in Minnesota.