Prominent running backs have been in the NFL news cycle this week.
As expected, Las Vegas Raiders’ star running back Josh Jacobs is staying away from the team’s mandatory minicamp because he has yet to sign his franchise tag.
Meanwhile, Thursday it was reported by multiple outlets that the Minnesota Vikings will release longtime standout running back Dalvin Cook by Friday if he’s not traded before then. It has been expected all offseason that Cook would be leaving the Vikings after being a second-round pick in 2017.
At the beginning of his fourth NFL season, Cook agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $63 million with $28 million guaranteed. Not all NFL running backs get big second contracts because many teams don’t value the position much because the wear-and-tear players get and they often decline at a faster rate than players at other positions. Now, the Vikings have dead money on Cook’s deal.
Vikings will owe Dalvin Cook $2 million this year once they release him.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 8, 2023
By releasing him after June 1, the Vikings also will save $9M in cap space, while taking on $5.1M in dead money on their 2023 cap.
The reason, of course, that Jacobs has stayed away from the Raiders this offseason is that he wants a long-term deal. Las Vegas gave him the franchise tag for this year and are set to pay him more than $10 million this season.
Jacobs, of course, wants a long-term deal like all players. Clearly, the two sides are apart on their plans or he would have already been taken care of.
Life of an NFL RB in 2023…— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) June 8, 2023
Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette are all free agents.
Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs have not signed their franchise tag tenders yet.
The position from a financial standpoint is not what it once was.
While a long-term extension is still in play, it’s also plausible that Jacobs will be a free agent next year. Surely, it’s something the Raiders are discussing.
And a situation like what’s happening is another reminder for the Raiders’ brass just as was the release of former superstars Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas. High-paid running backs can lose thread quickly.
Cook, who turns 28 in August, had a career-high 1,557 rushing yards in 2020. He did not have more than 1,173 yards in the past two years and he missed four games in 2021. Cook is still a talented player, but clearly the Vikings think he is beginning his decline.
The Vikings are turning to Alexander Mattison, who was a third-round pick in 2019, as their starter. The Raiders drafted Zamir White in the fourth round last year a day after not exercising Jacobs’ fifth-year option. If the Raiders decide to move on from Jacobs, 25, sooner than later, White could be in line to be the starter.
This all is not to suggest that Jacobs’ and Cook’s situation are tied in together. It’s just a reminder that teams can turn away from players at the position quickly. Yes, every NFL players’ contract is different, but when it comes to running backs, teams pay attention to the moves of other teams.