The New York Jets are already considered championship contenders in 2023 with the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers combined with their young core of talented stars.
Why not add a consistent veteran running back to the equation?
Dalvin Cook has been a model of consistency for the Minnesota Vikings since being a second-round pick in 2017. He’s totaled over 1,000 yards in every season since 2019 and has made the pro bowl four times. But with contract talks stalling and the Florida St. product unwilling to take a pay cut, Cook’s time in Minneapolis could be drawing to a close.
Cook has been a frequent name in trade talks over the last month but is currently still on the Vikings roster. A rumored trade between them and the Dolphins was close to taking place according to Albert Breer, but nothing ended up becoming official.
So while Minnesota remains undecided on what to do with its high-priced back, should the Jets try to swoop in and add another weapon to Rodgers’ offense?
In the end, there are plenty of factors for the team to consider
Running back by committee
Before suffering a torn ACL, Breece Hall was considered a favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award last year. He averaged close to six yards a carry, and just under seven yards a touch. While the former Iowa St. product is expected to be ready for the start of the 2023 season following his injury, it would be wise for New York to have a competent back behind him to let him get back to full playing speed.
If the Jets were to bring in a guy like Cook, they would have one of the best 1-2 tandems in the backfield across the NFL. Cook could be the in-between running back that New York needs while Hall could be used as the big-play back and schemed at different spots on the offense.
This would however likely be the end of Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight. Both backs have looked good when given chances but wouldn’t be able to get much playing time with Cook and Hall getting most of the carries.
Still, that tandem is incredibly enticing.
Imagining what a running back pair like Hall and Cook could do for the Jets is fun. Making it actually work within the salary cap is an entirely different issue though.
Cook’s entire issue in Minnesota is that he’s unwilling to take a pay cut and wants to be paid what he’s worth. The 27-year-old is in the fourth year of a five-year deal with Minnesota and carries a cap hit of over $14 million. The Jets still need to restructure Aaron Rodgers’ current contract and pay for a long-term extension with All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
If a trade were to be facilitated, New York would most assuredly need to rework Cook’s contract so he could stay with the team while not counting too much on the salary cap.
The idea of Cook is certainly fun and exciting, but if the Jets can’t figure out a way to work that contract to a more manageable number, they’ll likely pass on him.
Does Cook even want to play in New York?
Cook and the Dolphins have been drawn together in talks since the start of the 2023 offseason. As a Florida native, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the running back wants to return home.
That leaves the Jets in a difficult position. If they were to go after Cook in a trade, is there a guarantee that the running back would even want to play in New York?
Cook has made it clear that he would like to play for either Buffalo or Miami according to a report by Armando Salguero of Outkick. The potential to play with his brother in Buffalo also rules out the cold as being a reason for not choosing New York. That also though leaves the Jets with the very serious problem of if they don’t go after him, a division rival could swoop in and get even better.
It’s a tricky game the Jets will have to play over the next few weeks should they feel Cook is worth it. If Cook is open to changing his mind and coming to New York, that certainly changes the dynamic. The fact Minnesota has his rights though makes the running back’s request pretty moot.
What does compensation look like?
The common question that every team must ask themselves when going after a player that is still under contract with a team. While Minnesota seems to be waiting for the right offer for their running back, sooner or later, they will have to move him.
That means the price for a pro-bowl running back will decrease each week he’s still on the roster.
It’s important to note that New York does not need to make a move for Dalvin Cook. They have a good trio of backs already and the offense seems prepared to be a top unit in 2023. But should they find a way to make Cook work in their offense, and the salary cap, they probably won’t have to give a lot up for a running back that is entering the final years of his prime.
The New York Jets could not make a single move for the rest of the off-season and enter training camp with one of the most talented rosters in football. That alone is enough for fans to be excited about.
Should general manager Joe Douglas swoop and bring a four-time pro-bowl running back on the roster, it’s only going to make the team better. But as good a move as that could be, there are still very real concerns that the team would need to go over before a deal is made, or a contract is agreed to.
Regardless, all eyes now center on Minnesota to see what the front office will end up doing with a talented offensive weapon.
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