HOT TAKE: The Vikings Should do WHAT??
Goodbyes are hard. Especially when you shared a moment with that person unlike anything you've ever experienced, and may never experience something like it again.
I'm struggling with this trade. Not necessarily losing Stefon. It seems like his time here was coming to an end. For me, I just don't think we come out better in the short term in this trade. I still feel that this team is in "win now" mode. I think the Cousins extension confirms that. But, after we just commit to our QB for the next few years, why do we get rid of one of his weapons? Sure, we got several draft picks in return. But even if we pick up a wide receiver with one of those, do they instantly replace Diggs' production? We also are stuck with 9 million in dead cap space, and the trade only clears 5 million in space. Nevertheless, the trade happened. So what now?
So, where do we go from here? As you can guess, I have some thoughts. Before I begin, a bit of a disclaimer. I never played football. I'm not a scout. Everything I know about football comes from TV on Sundays, sports columns, and social media. I don't know how to tell a good lineman from a great lineman, nor do I pretend to. Now that that's out of the way, let's get to my expert opinion.
There is one thing the Vikings need to not do more than anything else.
*WARNING - HOT FUCKING TAKE AHEAD, BUCKLE UP*
Do. Not. Extend. Dalvin. Cook. I cannot stress this enough. Don't do it.
Why you ask? Check out this list of recent SuperBowl winning running backs:
Pierre Thomas, 2009: $460,000
James Starks, 2010: $420,300
Ahmad Bradshaw, 2011: $6.5 million (thanks to $5.0 million signing bonus)
Ray Rice, 2012: $17 million (thanks to $15 million signing bonus)
Marshawn Lynch, 2013: $7.0 million
LeGarrette Blount, 2014: $1.85 million
C.J. Anderson, 2015: $585,000
LeGarrette Blount, 2016: $1.5 million
LeGarrette Blount, 2017: $1.25 million
Sony Michel, 2018: $1.75 million (cap hit)
Minus Ray Rice, there is a trend here. I'm a big believer in analytics. And as you can see, the analytics point towards one thing. Teams with overpaid running backs do not win SuperBowls. Be honest, when's the last time you knew the name of a Patriots running back who wasn't on your fantasy team? Now, don't get me wrong. I love Dalvin Cook. He's incredible to watch, and while I haven't met him, he seems like a great person off the field as well. The guy is such an insane talent. So why the hell would we trade him?
Yesterday, this team extended Kirk Cousins, once again making him the highest paid QB in the league. That tells me this team believes that he is the guy going forward. I was arguing with some other Vikings fans last night about this who think Cook is the focal point of our offense. Last year, he 100% was. But, as we see and hear time and time again, the NFL is a passing league. Running backs simply are not as valuable as they were years ago. And I know what you may be thinking: "But Dalvin still has one more year of his rookie deal, so salary shouldn't be an issue until the 2021 season, right?" Not necessarily.
I firmly believe that Dalvin is going to hold out this season, and not show up until he gets paid what he wants. That's an issue. Also, a running back of Cook's caliber is going to command an insane salary, somewhere in the 13-15 million range. That's a lot of money. To me, the only way to justify that is to not extend Kirk, and draft a QB this year. But, that's already not an option. Rick Spielman made a commitment to Cousins, thus committing to the passing game. In order for Kirk to succeed, he needs a solid running game and an improved offensive line. Our running game, even without Cook, is very solid. For years, our offensive line has left much to be desired. If we pay Cook as much as he wants, we have almost no options to improve the line. If you haven't been paying attention, the Vikings are in cap hell. It's gotten a bit better in the past week, but we have a lot of holes to fill.
So, this is why we should trade Cook. Rather than dealing with a holdout, we can give him to a team that is going to commit to being a run-first team. In return, you better believe we would get an absolute HAUL in return. Then, use a pick received in either the Cook or Diggs trade to add another running back to the depth chart, kind of a running back by committee system. Use the leftover cap space for at least one significant upgrade on the offensive line.
However, if the Vikings end up extending Cook (which, unfortunately, is probably going to happen), I seriously believe it will permanently handicap the team. The amount of money invested will keep us good in a few areas and below average in others, rather than being able to improve multiple positions.
Now, believe me when I say this: I fucking LOVE this damn team. Whoever puts on the purple and gold, I will cheer for. Whoever comes and goes, I cheer for the name on the front, not the name on the back.
So I hope if the Vikings do extend Dalvin, I hope we make a run and win the damn thing. If they don't make a trade like I think they should, I hope they make me eat my words. I'll be cheering no matter what.