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Vikings to release RB Dalvin Cook after six seasons

The Dalvin Cook era is over in Minnesota.

The Vikings and the four-time Pro Bowl running back are expected to part ways, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported, per sources informed of the decision.

The Vikings are expected to release Cook on Friday officially, Pelissero added, leaving the door open for a last-minute trade. Given the Vikes' brass has been unable to unload Cook and his contract for months, it would seem unlikely a team would ante up at this stage, but stranger things have happened.

Cook was due a $10.4 million base salary in 2023, the impetus for the 27-year-old's release. The running back has $2 million guaranteed -- which is subject to offsets when he signs with a new club. Cutting Cook after June 1 allows the Vikings to save $9 million on the salary cap this season with $5 million in dead money.

Cook remains a dynamic player, coming off his fourth-straight 1,100-plus-yard rushing campaign and fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. A home-run hitter who can churn out yards, Cook finishes his career in Minnesota as the franchise's third all-time rusher, with 5,993 yards in six seasons.

Talent wasn't the reason for the release. Financials were the issue.

Cook inked his five-year, $63 million extension under the previous régime. New general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a decidedly more analytics approach to the job, which includes not investing big-money deals in the running back position. Cook had little impetus to accept a pay cut or cost-lowering extension, ultimately leading to the split.

Cook's release is the latest move in the Vikings' remake. Minnesota traded edge rusher Za'Darius Smith to Cleveland last month and recently took calls on Danielle Hunter. Adofo-Mensah is attempting to perform a competitive rebuild, remaking a suspect roster while still competing for a winnable division.

The Vikings inked longtime backup Alexander Mattison to a two-year contract worth up to $8 million this offseason, a key indicator that the club planned to move on from Cook at some point. Mattison will take over the lead-back role in Kevin O'Connell's offense.

Upon his release, Cook should find a solid market, with teams like the Dolphins and Broncos reportedly expected to have interest in the veteran running back.

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