Speaking on his radio show Monday morning, Vikings play-by play announcer Paul Allen tried to take a stab at one of the team's biggest mysteries this offseason by figuring out what an extension for Dalvin Cook could look like.
With Cook heading into the final year of his deal, Allen used the agreement that the Los Angeles Chargers reached with Austin Ekeler over the weekend as a starting point, with that dealing getting Ekeler $24.5 million over four years with $15.5 million guaranteed.
Does a $6 million annual salary seem way too low for Cook when the top running backs in the league are making $13 to $15 million? Allen speculated that Cook's deal, if he and the Vikings are able to agree to a new contract, could fall between Ekeler's $24M and Ezekiel Elliot's $15M/annually.
"Maybe it's in between, but when I presented that to two people deep inside the covenant, it's not like 'Mr. Announcer, you're an idiot,'" Allen explained. "They understood some of the facets I was presenting and I'm not saying [the Ekeler deal] is absolutely the final bottom-line number, but I'm also saying the deal [Cook] should get should not be far from that."
ESPN's Courtney Cronin wrote about Cook's contract status and said: "The Vikings might argue that the sweet spot for Cook could be between $8 million and $10 million."
Among the reasons for using Ekeler's deal as a baseline is the stunning similarities between the two runners. Both players had a pair of nondescript seasons to begin their careers before exploding in 2019.
- Ekeler 2019: 557 rush yards, 3 TD / 92 receptions, 993 yards, 8 TD
- Cook 2019: 1,135 rush yards, 13 TD / 53 receptions, 519 yards, 0 TD
Another factor in any Cook negotiations, which GM Rick Spielman said could begin after the NFL Draft, is Minnesota's lack of budget as they're currently only approximately $700,000 under the salary cap.
Another idea from Allen: restructure quarterback Kirk Cousins' deal and use the savings to pay Cook.
"What you do is you re-do Cousins," Allen explained, noting Cousins is due to make $31M next season. "And with the money you house, it all heads to Dalvin on a deal similar to this (Ekeler's deal) unless he wants to break the bank like Ezekiel Elliott."
It's an idea that Cronin touched on in her story for ESPN, saying extending Cousins would open up cap space now
The desire to match Elliott would be tough as the star running back reached a six-year, $90 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys prior to last season. But, if the Vikings and Cook can meet in the middle one way or another, an extension might be possible.