The Baltimore Ravens have signed former Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets running back Dalvin Cook, according to multiple reports. The four-time Pro Bowler was waived by the Jets earlier this week and went unclaimed on waivers. He now joins a Ravens team gearing up for a playoff run.
Lead Up To Release From Jets
The Jets signed Cook to a lucrative four-year, $48 million contract in March of 2023. However, the move failed to pay dividends as Cook struggled mightily in New York’s offense. He rushed for just 573 yards and 3 touchdowns while averaging a paltry 3.3 yards per carry.
With their playoff hopes dashed, the Jets decided to waive Cook prior to their season finale to allow the veteran an opportunity to join a playoff contender.
Dalvin Cook’s Stats With Jets
|Yards From Scrimmage
“We did what we felt was best for our organization,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh. “We appreciate Dalvin’s efforts and wish him the best moving forward.”
The Jets will move forward with rookie running back Breece Hall, who flashed promise when healthy this season.
Why Ravens Make Sense
The Ravens have dealt with injuries at running back all season long. Starter J.K. Dobbins suffered a setback with his knee early in the year, while backup Gus Edwards was just activated from injured reserve last week after missing significant time. Baltimore has been relying on the likes of Justice Hill and Kenyan Drake at running back.
While the Ravens’ rushing attack has still been potent behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, a proven veteran like Cook gives them another weapon for a postseason run. Especially with questions surrounding Dobbins’ workload and durability.
“This is the kind of unexpected gift that emerges for contenders late in the year,” said NFL analyst David Carr. “Plugging in a multi-time Pro Bowler like Cook into [Offensive Coordinator] Greg Roman’s system could be scary for defenses.”
What Cook Brings To Ravens
When healthy and in the right system, Cook has shown elite ability. Just two seasons ago with the Vikings, he led the NFL with 1,918 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns. While Cook is now 30 years old, he doesn’t have as much tread on his tires after splitting reps earlier in his career.
Cook is an aggressive downhill runner with underrated abilities as a receiver. He racked up over 200 receptions in his six years with the Vikings. Cook should make an immediate impact on early downs and short-yardage situations, but also has big play upside.
“Cook’s skill set is still robust,” said NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah. “He’s lost maybe half a step from his Minnesota peak, but the burst is still there when he sees a crease. Baltimore could really maximize his talents.”
Impact On Ravens Backfield
Cook’s arrival clouds the outlook for Edwards and Dobbins in the playoffs. While the Ravens won’t simply cast those two aside, Cook’s ability and experience should afford him ample opportunities right away. Drake now figures to slide into more of a backup and special teams role.
A reasonable expectation would be for Baltimore to use Dobbins and Edwards on early downs, in the red zone, and in short-yardage/goal line situations. Cook will then be mixed as a change of pace back who could thrive on passing downs.
The Ravens staff believes Cook will have a significant role though based on how highly they think of him.
“Dalvin Cook sees the hole as well as any running back in the NFL,” Ravens running backs coach Craig Ver Steeg said, per reports. “He understands blocking structure and how to manipulate it better than most backs I’ve been around. This isn’t just a depth signing.”
Projected Ravens RB Breakdown For Playoffs
|Early, Red Zone
|Passing, Up Tempo
Of course, injuries could also dictate roles. Dobbins’ availability and capability remains a lingering question mark after his setback earlier this season.
How Signing Impacts Playoff Outlook
At 10-7 and AFC North champions, the Ravens are locked into the #3 seed in the playoffs. They will host either the Chargers or Jaguars in the Wild Card round. With Lamar Jackson playing at an MVP level once again, Baltimore’s Super Bowl hopes depend largely on defensive and running game execution.
While a porous pass defense remains a concern, Cook’s arrival elevates the Ravens’ backfield talent to among the best in the AFC. A three-headed monster of Cook, Dobbins and Edwards poses issues for any defense. Their varied running styles could dominate time of possession and open up Jackson as a passer. It’s a game-changing addition to an already solid rushing attack.
Considering the vulnerability of other AFC contenders (like Kansas City’s defense), Cook could very well be the final piece to Baltimore hoisting another Lombardi Trophy. This signing single-handedly bolsters their title chances at the perfect time.
Cook will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, as this is merely a rental signing for the Ravens’ playoff run after he cleared waivers. Cook reviving his value in Baltimore could lead to a short-term deal elsewhere this spring. There figures to be more interest in a productive Cook than there was just days ago.
“Depending on what Dalvin shows over the next month, we could easily see him land back in Minnesota or elsewhere as a bridge starter,” said former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum. “He will have far more leverage after rehabbing his stock on a big playoff stage.”
In the short term, Cook brings reliably and star power to a Baltimore team with very real championship aspirations. It was a low risk, potentially very high reward pickup. Don’t be surprised if Cook ends his brief Ravens tenure hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
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