The Arizona Cardinals have been touted as a landing spot for Dalvin Cook by Andy Kwong of Revenge Of The Birds. The four-time Pro Bowler was placed on the trade block by the Minnesota Vikings, but no team has bitten yet.
I know this is a long shot but what IF the Cardinals haven't signed a veteran free agent running back because they're waiting on the Vikings to release Dalvin Cook
Cardinals' OC Drew Petzing was on the Vikings' coaching staff for six seasons (2014-19). https://t.co/61ULwVIfqH
— Andy Kwong 🏈 (@akwong31) June 3, 2023
Cook was expected to be trade by the “end of the week”, but he remains on the Vikings roster. Minnesota are keen to offload Cook and his $10 million cap hit as they brace for impact on Justin Jefferson’s contract. There is also some belief that Cook’s best days are behind him, with the team better off moving forward with Alexander Mattison.
As Kwong notes, there is a chance that Arizona are holding out for Cook to be released. The team have 11 draft picks for the 2024 NFL Draft but are unlikely to want to give up any draft capital for Cook.
Given that the Vikings have yet to receive an adequate trade offer, the 27-year-old could see a similar fate to DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was placed on the trade block early in the off-season. However, due to his big cap hit, no teams were willing to trade for him. As such, Arizona released him to get him off their books for 2024 entirely.
The Cardinals need quality at running back and have also been linked to free agent Kareem Hunt by Johnny Venerable of PHNX Cardinals. It is unlikely that Arizona would sign both Cook and Hunt, if they sign any at all.
A move for Cook seems unrealistic, but there could be more substance to the suggestion than meets the eye.
Why Are the Arizona Cardinals A Potential Landing Spot For Dalvin Cook?
Kwong’s assertion is not entirely baseless. Throughout this off-season, he has been vocal in suggesting that Arizona will build foundations by pursuing players that have familiarity with the new coaching staff.
For this reason, Cook makes sense. As Kwong says, new Cardinals offensive coordinator, Drew Petzing, was formerly part of the Vikings coaching staff. As such, Arizona are expected to implement an offense not dissimilar to Minnesota’s run-heavy, west coast scheme.
Cook would have familiarity with this scheme. He has found success on the Vikings, enroute to four Pro Bowls.
At 27, Cook might fit Arizona’s timeline too. The team are currently undergoing a major roster overhaul. However, Cook would have the chance to be one of the team’s faces of the franchise, leading the young team into a new era. As he reaches the end of his expected peak, Arizona could be competitive.
Arizona also have the money to pay Cook. The Cardinals have around $23 million in cap space and could offer Cook an incentive-laden short-term deal to tempt him to the desert. In a low-expectation year, Cook could re-establish himself as a top back and parlay a small deal into something much greater in 2024.
And, of course, the final thing to note is that Arizona need running back help. The team have James Conner but no clear number two. For this reason, Cook could be signed to form a one-two punch with Conner.
For these reasons, Kwong’s ‘longshot’ is far from unfounded. It is also worth noting Kwong’s own track record this off-season. At the start of the free agency period, he drew up a Cardinals’ offensive free agent ‘wishlist’. From that list, he correctly predicted Zach Pascal, Hjalte Froholdt, Elijah Wilkinson and the re-signing of Will Hernandez.
My Wishlist for the AZ Offense:
1a. Ben Powers – OG
-b. Elijah Wilkinson
2a. Jacoby Brissett – QB
-b. G. Minshew
-c. T. Bridgewater
-d. C. Keenum
3. Ben Jones (compete w/ rookie center)
Depth: Zach Pascal, Hjalte Froholdt (NE – CLE)
Re-sign G Will Hernandez https://t.co/JHHF3z9V8k
— Andy Kwong 🏈 (@akwong31) March 12, 2023
How The Arizona Cardinals Would Fit Dalvin Cook In
As mentioned, Arizona needs help at running back. The likelihood is that, if Cook were signed, he would split snaps with Conner. Behind Conner, the team currently have Ty’Son Williams, Corey Clement, Keaontay Ingram and UDFA Emari Demercado. None of those options seem that reliable.
Petzing’s offensive influences largely come from the Kevin Stefanski and Kyle Shanahan coaching philosophy. As such, his Stefanski-Shanahan-inspired offense will likely use Cook in a similar way to how he has been used in Minnesota. That will involve a balancing of outside zone runs as well as plenty of receiving opportunities.
In Arizona, Cook would have the benefit of sharing rushing responsibilities with Conner. The two are very dissimilar, with very different strengths. Like how Conner and Chase Edmonds were an effective duo, Cook and Conner could be dynamic.
While Conner excels in short-yardage situations and inside the redzone, Cook is more a dynamic, receiving back. In Minnesota, Cook was often deployed as the do-it-all back but, in Arizona, he would have the luxury of splitting the hard yards with one of the league’s top bruising backs. This would also help preserve both Cook’s and Conner’s career longevity.
Here’s 53 seconds of Dalvin Cook being “washed”
Little heads up, Vikings O-line ranked:
25th in run-blocking (DVOA)
31st in stuff rate but 13th in 2nd level run rate. Why is that important?
It means the offensive line was letting people into the backfield more than anyone… pic.twitter.com/wCTc6FUJyJ
— Chuck Bass (@ChuckBassFF) June 1, 2023
Main Photo: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports