The Minnesota Vikings have kept Dalvin Cook off the practice field early in training camp in hopes of coming to a long-term deal. Those hopes became dimmer Wednesday.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that contract talks between the Vikings and Cook broke off Tuesday, per sources informed of the situation.
Talks could restart at a later date, Pelissero noted, but at this point, the star running back is staring at playing 2020 on the final year of his rookie contract.
Cook has insisted he's focused on Week 1 and isn't worried about his contract situation.
"Just letting those guys take as much time as they can and get this thing worked out and get a reasonable thing done for me that I'm worth on and off the field," he said last week.
Sides have attempted to get the former second-round pick, and engine of the Vikings offense, locked down to a new deal before the start of the season, but haven't bridged the gap in negotiations.
From Cook's perspective, he's the centerpiece of Minnesota's offense who makes Gary Kubiak's scheme hum and allows Kirk Cousins' play-action game to flourish. Cook is a dual-threat monster who gives defenses headaches. He's deserving of a top-of-the-market deal. Whether he's seeking to match Christian McCaffrey's $16 million-per-year deal remains to be seen.
The Vikings front office acknowledges Cook's importance, but also know he's never played a full 16-game slate and has missed 19 regular-season games over three campaigns. Big running back contracts have become albatrosses for teams after injuries struck. Notably in recent years, the deals for David Johnson in Arizona and Todd Gurley in Los Angeles have blown up in their team's faces. Already flirting with cap space issues in future years, Minnesota is surely trying to avoid a similar fate.
With little leverage for the RB and no deadline to get a deal done, sides have broken off talks. The club's ability to use the franchise tag on Cook next year gives the team less incentive to give in to Cook's desires now.
After the Vikings held Cook out of workouts, it will be interesting if the star running back will flip the script and perform a hold-in, similar to Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram. Pelissero noted that such a move for Cook would be different than Ingram, given the younger player's need for an accrued season toward free agency.
Running backs, unfortunately, are in a rough spot when getting their big second deals. Cook's situation is a continuation of that reality for one of the most physically demanding jobs in football.