ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is holding out until he receives a reasonable deal. Cook is in the last year of his rookie contract and set to make $1.3 million this season.
Cook is the first running back to hold out this season, and the others will be looking closely to see if he gets an extension. The timing of his holdout means he is likely to be the standard for how running backs get paid in the 2021 offseason.
The 2021 free-agent class of running backs will be one of the deepest ever. Cook, Derrick Henry, Todd Gurley, Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette and Alvin Kamara are among the headliners. A total of 15 running backs who totaled more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in at least one of the last two seasons will be available.
This is why so many eyes will be on Cook.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey set a new bar at running back in April when he signed a four-year, $64 million extension. At $16 million per year, the deal is a record for running backs, surpassing Ezekiel Elliot’s contract for $15 million.
Cook is unlikely to reach McCaffrey’s numbers because he hasn’t played a full 16-game season and recently earned his first Pro Bowl berth. He’s also unlikely to top Elliot, who has rushed for more yards than every running back in the 2021 free-agent class in the last three seasons. That leaves Le’Veon Bell, who makes $13.1 million per season as the next guy on the list, but he had three Pro Bowl berth’s before signing his deal after a holdout in 2018.
No current situation is similar to Cook’s. Melvin Gordon’s holdout last season may be the best example because he was coming off his second Pro Bowl. Gordon didn’t get a contract extension and signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Broncos this offseason.
A holdout is risky, but Cook’s situation will tell you a lot about teams plan to approach this running back class. If he gets an extension, Henry, Fournette, Jones and others will likely use his contract as a barometer. If he has to play the season out without an extension, it figures to be a long year for running backs, and their future contracts.
Carlos Hyde had an inside look at Colin Kaepernick’s protest’s in 2016 as a teammate with the 49ers. Hyde is now a running back for the Seahawks, and he believes the NFL should sign Kaerpnick to prove that their recent messages about social injustice and condemning racism are true.
“I think if they sign Kap back, that’ll show that they’re really trying to move in a different direction,” Hyde said to reporters. “Because Kap was making a statement four years ago about what’s going on in today’s world and the NFL didn’t bother to listen to him then, so I think they should start by doing that.”
Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016. The 49ers went 2-14 that season and 1-10 in his 11 starts. He had 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Sure, three seasons of no football is a long break, but it seems that players around the league feel that Kaepernick at least deserved a backup position. Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks pointed to the team signing Mike Glennon in 2017 as an example.
In 2016, Glennon threw one touchdown pass and played in two games with no meaningful snaps. In four starts with the Bears in 2017, he threw four touchdowns and five interceptions while compiling a 1-3 record.