The Minnesota Vikings waived cornerback John Reed on Wednesday, just days before the start of training camp. They now have an open roster spot — in theory, even two because the junior aho is a member of the International Pathway Program and is not counted on the roster. But what do the Vikings plan to do with all that open space?
Can the Vikings open roster spot be used on an old friend?
Teams don’t waste roster spots. The team is definitely planning something, but what is it? Who will be the mysterious new boy? Well, one theory involves Dalvin Cook. Running back Bell-Guy has been trying to find a new home since being released by Purple Team in June. When the Vikings announced the roster move, the comments immediately filled with the idea of signing the star running back.
When Kirk Cousins mentioned He anticipated Cook’s return, considered highly improbable and a sign of admiration for the longtime teammate rather than a real possibility. But now, some teams have already started training camp, and Cook’s free agency process has not picked up pace. Full words of cousins:
Dalvin Cook being released was obviously big news and I wanted to take my time to acknowledge the respect I have for him as a player and a person and the difference he has made for our team, his toughness, his consistency. He’s been to four consecutive Pro Bowls, which says it all right here. I’m excited to see where he goes, I’ll always be there for him. And I’m kind of optimistic that maybe we’ll get him back, who knows, but maybe there’s an outside chance so we’ll see.
It’s a bad economy for running backs, as teams don’t want to invest money in a position. It is possible to find cheap but effective runners late in the draft. In recent years, the analytics community has shown that the offensive line is just as important (if not more) to an efficient running attack.
Just last year, Isiah Pacheco and Tyler Algier proved to be solid props and both came into the league on the third day of the draft. With an open roster spot and a lousy market for rushers, the Vikings are suddenly an option again, at least in theory.
Minnesota released several expensive players this offseason, resulting in huge salary cap savings. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah started with over $20 million in debt and now has about $18 million available to spend on his roster.
Most of that could be used to extend the contract of Danielle Hunter, a necessary investment given the state of defense. There’s also the option of saving money for upcoming years when Justin Jefferson’s potentially record-breaking contract kicks in.
But there’s another sign of Cook’s return. Vikings safety Josh Metellus was asked on Twitter if he wanted to change his number from 44 to 4, a number vacant since Cook’s departure. His answer, “Negative. He’ll have to let my dog breathe. 44 As long as I’m a wike.”
A roster spot, a cold market, needed salary cap space, and teammates who still love him? A reunion seems far more plausible now than it did a few weeks ago.
However, as fun as the theory is, it’s still far-fetched. When the Vikings gave Alexander Mattison his deal, they committed to him as the starter and have selected three running backs in the last three drafts. Those investments have to see the field at some point. This would lead to the automatic release of at least one of those people.
Plus, Adofo-Mensah is still an analytically driven guy, and they’d be hesitant to pay a running back more than peanuts. In all likelihood, Cooks will find a team in the next few weeks, possibly at a lower salary than he expected when he left Minnesota, but a team nonetheless. Unless there is absolutely no market, reunification may be possible.
The running back ranks third in rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns in franchise history and will turn 28 in August.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who loves numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team at the time, despite quarterback Christian Ponder. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms and classic rock is his musical genre of choice. If you like Vikings, follow them on Twitter: @JanikEckardt