Running back Dalvin Cook underwent his first coronavirus test Tuesday morning, officially reporting for Vikings training camp amid contract talks, two league sources confirmed to the Star Tribune.
Cook, who amassed 1,654 yards from scrimmage last season, had held out of a few virtual meetings in June while dissatisfied with the team’s contract offers entering his contract year. But Cook’s leverage to hold out into training camp was undercut by the new collective-bargaining agreement, which states players need to report to camp on time to be eligible for an accrued season. Previous rules required reporting 30 days before the regular season.
In Cook’s case, he needed to report Tuesday; without a fourth accrued season this fall, Cook would be a restricted free agent next spring, meaning the Vikings could keep him well below market value.
The next step for Cook and the Vikings will be finding common ground, which was hard to find last month as Cook’s agent, Zac Hiller, said his client would hold out until given a “reasonable” offer. One holdup could be over money tied to per-game bonuses and incentives, given Cook’s injury history.
The top of the running back market is set by Carolina’s Christian McCaffery, who earns $16 million per season. The most recent big-money backfield deal went to Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, who led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards last season and signed a four-year extension worth $12.5 million per year.
Cook is due a $1.33 million base salary in the final year of his rookie contract.