(Editor's note: The Minnesota Vikings informed running back Dalvin Cook that they plan to release him, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday. This story was originally published June 2 and has been updated to reflect current events.)
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins couldn’t possibly add another star to their planetarium of a locker room ... could they?
Cook, a South Florida native, is the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher since entering the league in 2017, despite playing in the the second-fewest games of any running back in the top 10 of that category. He ran for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022. Although he set a career-low in yards per touch at 4.8, he played an entire season for the first time -- a positive sign for the 27-year-old.
But does Cook to the Dolphins make sense?
We know Dolphins general manager Chris Grier will perform his due diligence, as he does whenever a high-caliber player is available. Sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Miami inquired about running back D'Andre Swift after the Detroit Lions selected Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round of the draft.
The Dolphins finished the 2022 season ranked 25th in rushing yards, which coach Mike McDaniel attributed to his playcalling rather than the players carrying the ball.
“Ultimately we had the opportunity to bring two of our strongest character contributors and players we depend on in Raheem and Jeff,” McDaniel said at the league meeting in March. “They’re both, I think, above 4.7 yards per carry. I think there’d be a little bit of a different feeling if we didn’t run the ball because they didn’t run the ball well. We didn’t run the ball well in games that we were overly injured or some games I just didn’t call enough runs.
“So when you look at it historically if you can get a runner 4.5-plus, they’re doing something pretty good. I see them as a big part of our team and just the fabric and who we are as human beings; they really contribute to that locker room.”
Over his six-year career, Cook has averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and his 1,282 attempts rank fourth most in the league during that time frame.
He traditionally has been a high-workload back with the Vikings, but the Dolphins’ running backs room is too deep for him to continue that role in South Florida. So, if he’s looking for carries, there are better options than Miami. He probably also would have to take a pay cut in the event he signed with the Dolphins; he was due $11 million this season if he had remained in Minnesota, and it’s unlikely a Dolphins offer would be close to that, even with roughly $13 million of salary cap space that opened up after June 1.
There are several factors that complicate a possible homecoming for Cook. But ultimately, the Dolphins are geared up for a Super Bowl run this year, and adding talent could help steer them toward that goal.