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Dalvin Cook played a full season for first time in his NFL career. Will the Vikings bring him back?

He played in every game, posting 264 carries for 1,173 yards, as well as 39 catches for 295 yards.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings back Dalvin Cook runs with the ball during against the Chicago Bears on Jan. 8, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago. Cook played the entire season for the Vikings, something he has not been able to do before because of injuries.
Daniel Bartel/ USA Today Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook piled his stuff into a garbage bag, dapped up a few of his teammates, and held court in front of his locker.

“It was a great season,” Cook said on Monday afternoon at TCO Performance Center in Eagan. “We didn’t finish how we wanted to finish.”

That’s an understatement.

After finishing the regular season with a 13-4 record — and a perfect 11-0 record in games decided by a single possession, an NFL record — the Vikings bowed to the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Instead of preparing for a second-round game against the San Francisco 49ers this week, they are heading for vacation much sooner than expected.

Though the sting of the loss hadn’t yet worn off, Cook tried his best to look at the positives of the season. On a macro level, the Vikings laid a solid foundation in the first season under coach Kevin O’Connell. On a micro level, Cook played a full season for the first time in his NFL career.

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“It means a lot,” Cook said. “I was there for my guys. That’s always been my goal, just to finish with these guys.”

As effective as Cook has been since the Vikings selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he also has dealt with myriad injuries since entering the league. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament as a rookie, suffered through hamstring strains and ankle sprains and, most recently, battled a chronic shoulder dislocation.

“It was just on my conscience that I could’ve helped these guys win a game,” Cook said. “I could’ve been out there.”

vikings-mugs-dalvin-cook-2022.jpeg
Dalvin Cook

That wasn’t an issue for Cook this season. He played in every game, posting 264 carries for 1,173 yards, as well as 39 catches for 295 yards. He split reps with fellow running back Alexander Mattison, so that likely helped keep him fresh.

“Credit to everything we got going on around here,” Cook said while going out of his way to give the training staff a shoutout. “They put us in a good position to go out and feel good and go compete.”

The fact that Cook managed to stay healthy this season should not be taken lightly. That said, Cook also looked noticeably less explosive at times this season, leaving some to wonder whether the Vikings will think about moving on from him.

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It’s something to consider with Cook carrying a $14.1 million cap number next season. If the Vikings cut him before June 1, they would save $7.8 million against the cap. If the Vikings cut him after June 1, they would save $11 million against the cap. That’s not insignificant for a team that’s going to have to navigate a cap crunch.

Not surprisingly, Cook declined to speculate about his future, deferring to his agent Zac Hiller. Those conversations between Hiller and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be well-documented in the coming months.

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In the meantime, though, Cook plans to take some time to himself.

“I’m definitely gonna lay low,” he said. “Take as much time as I need to feel good.”

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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