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On Monday reports surfaced that one of the most talented running backs in the National Football League is holding out until he gets an extension on his contract. That back is Minnesota Vikings Dalvin Cook, a three-year man out of Florida State.

As mentioned Cook is super talented and really burst onto the scene this past season with a Pro-Bowl season. In 14 games Cook tallied 1,135 yards, 13 touchdowns, and hauled in 53 catches for 519 yards.

The Minnesota Vikings have made it pretty clear that they've put a ton of value into their highly paid quarterback Kirk Cousins who just signed a two-year extension worth $66M.

When I look at this situation I think of guys like Ezekiel Elliot, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Todd Gurley. These guys all, except for Bell, got new deals done prior to their rookie contracts concluding, and not all of them panned out. Bell was franchise tagged twice before he was traded to the New York Jets.

Both David Johnson and Todd Gurley both signed new deals and then dealt with injuries which caused them to be ineffective. Gurley was released this off-season and Johnson was dealt to the Houston Texans as part of the astounding DeAndre Hopkins deal as he went to the Arizona Cardinals.

It's always a gamble to pay running back a hefty price tag with the expected shelf life, the injury risk that comes with playing the position, and the ability to find young cheaper talent in the draft.

In Dalvin Cook's case, he does have an injury worry after he tore his ACL four games into his rookie season in 2017. However, he'll be 25 at the beginning of the 2020 season and I'm of the mindset that he deserves a pay-raise from his poultry rookie deal where he's set to make $1.3M this season.

Now, how much does he deserve to make? Based on Spotrac's list of running back contracts I'm of the mindset he should make about $15M a year. I'd say about four years $60M give or take a couple of million would seem about right.

At that price point, he would become the third highest-paid back in the league only behind Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliot but ahead of an older Le'Veon Bell.

Why I believe he's well worth an extension of this magnitude is because so much of Minnesota's success is predicated on the play-action pass. So, they might think that they're a QB first team but it seems like an effective running game makes all the difference for an otherwise up and down Kirk Cousins.

Consider this, Cousins was ultra-effective when it came to play-action completion percentage in 2019 at 73.6% according to Player Profile which ranked him 4th in the league. While he was, in fact, an effective passer last season the Vikings also ranked 31st in pass-plays per game at 30.9 per game. That tells me that they want the ball in the hands of Cousins as few times as possible and if the balls not in his hands that means it's in the hands of Dalvin Cook. To me, that makes him extremely valuable, kind of like Zeke Elliot.

 

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