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Free-agent RB Dalvin Cook remains confident ahead of next opportunity: 'I'm still that guy'

Dalvin Cook went from a four-time Pro Bowler with four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons to an afterthought in 2023.

That trend has continued after nearly a month of free agency, but although Cook remains unsigned, he's still as confident as ever in his game-breaking abilities.

"I've got it all," Cook told KPRC 2's Aaron Wilson on Friday during a workout. "The tools are still here. I didn't really get no reps last year. The legs are fresh, the resume speaks for itself. I'm still Dalvin Cook. I'm still that guy. For me, I don't like to toot my own horn. I just like to go up there and put my helmet on and line up on the grass."

Cook has seven years as an NFL running back thus far on his resume, which before last season was sterling outside of some recurring injuries.

A 2017 second-round pick, Cook has 6,207 career yards and 47 touchdowns on the ground, plus another 1,872 yards and five scores on 236 catches.

Only 292 of those total yards came last year, when Cook teamed up with the Jets following his release from Minnesota and found himself far shy of a perfect match.

His Gang Green signing, like many before it that summer, was considered a signifier that New York was ready to make a Super Bowl push.

Instead, quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered season-ending torn Achilles four snaps into the season, the offense sputtered mightily under backup Zach Wilson, and instead of complementing Breece Hall while the second-year RB got back up to speed from an injury of his own, Cook averaged 4.4 carries across 15 games while playing second fiddle.

The Jets and Cook mutually agreed to part ways following Week 17, after which the back signed on with the AFC's first-seeded Ravens. He appeared in one postseason game for Baltimore and carried the ball eight times for 23 yards.

Cook had experienced some diminished efficiency in 2022, his final year as a Viking, but the subsequent drop-off was nonetheless as precipitous as it was surprising.

Even if he's still "that guy" from before, he's increasingly unlikely to be the guy for an NFL offense in 2024, as evidenced by the market producing new homes already for veteran peers such as Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler and Tony Pollard.

Still, part of the delay in finding his next team stems from Cook preferring to stay patient this time around.

"I think last year was really like a learning curve for me," he said. " I got kind of itchy. At the time it was coming, the season, it was where I wanted to go. But now, for me, it's about the opportunity's going to come. It's about what you're going to do with it. For me, patience is the key, so let's just stay ready and stay confident, it's going to explode."

Wherever he lands, he will have to prove his worth in the RB room, possibly with a lighter workload similar to 2023. Again, Cook is confident he'll be able to do so.

"I'm gonna go earn my spot anywhere, wherever I go," said Cook, who turns 29 in August. "So right now, for me, just kind of see how everything is going to fill out for everybody. And then you know me, I'll just sneak up on the scene."

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