The day before the Vikings open their season against the Packers, the team resolved one of its biggest offseason questions, agreeing to a contract extension with star running back Dalvin Cook on Saturday morning. Cook’s contract situation had hung over the offseason, which saw a few other high-profile running backs near the end of in their rookie contracts agree to lucrative new deals.
Jan. 27: The Vikings’ season ends with 27-10 playoff loss to the 49ers, who hold Cook to 18 rushing yards a week after he turned 31 touches into 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints. In 14 regular-season games, he amassed 1,135 rushing yards (10th in NFL) and 13 touchdowns (tied for fourth). After two injury-plagued seasons, Cook is a perfect fit for a Gary Kubiak system built around him.
Feb. 25: At the NFL Scouting Combine, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman says Cook is part of “those core group of players that we definitely want to try and keep.” But, he added, an extension for a player headed into the final year of his contract typically would not happen until shortly before training camp.
April 13: Christian McCaffrey, 23, completes a four-year contract extension with Carolina that averages just over $16 million per year, the highest for a running back in league history.
June 8: Cook decides to skip the end of the Vikings’ virtual offseason program, and his agent, Zac Hiller, tells ESPN the running back would not report for training camp without a new contract.
July 15: Derrick Henry, 26, of Tennessee, who led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards last season, agrees to a four-year extension that averages $12.5 million per season.
July 28: Cook reports to training camp on time. He had little leverage to hold out; the new collective bargaining agreement required him to show up on time to be eligible for unrestricted free agency next March. It’s believed Cook is seeking a contract averaging around $13 million per season.
Aug. 14: In his first news conference of training camp, Cook says he is content letting the Vikings and his agent “take as much as time as they can and get a reasonable thing done for me, what I’m worth on and off the field. I was going to be here, regardless of whatever speculation came up [that] I wasn’t coming.”
Aug. 19: The Vikings break off contract talks with Hiller. Cook continues to practice.
Sept. 1: Joe Mixon, 24, and Cincinnati reach a four-year deal that will pay the running back an average of $12 million through 2024.
Sept. 9: Asked about his lack of a contract four days before the season opener against the Packers, Cook says: “You go out and bust your tail and do what you’ve got to do and you expect a reward to come behind that,” says Cook, who is named a team captain for the first time the same day. “I just hope the Vikings and my agent come to an agreement of a deal that values me. Until then, I’ve just got to wait my turn.”
Sept. 12: The day before the season opener, Cook agrees to a five-year, $63 million extension. His average annual salary of $12.6 million makes him the sixth highest paid running back in the league, just ahead of Henry and behind the Saints’ Alvin Kamara, who reportedly got a five-year, $75 million deal on Saturday.