How much have running backs been devalued in the modern-day NFL? In June, the Minnesota Vikings released four-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook in a salary-cap move. He’s still a moderately young 28 years old and has been to four straight Pro Bowls with four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and a solid receiver out of the backfield. Yet Cook couldn’t find a team in free agency until Monday when he joined Aaron Rodgers on the loaded New York Jets.
When Rodgers was dealt from Green Bay at the draft, the Jets’ futures odds completely changed because he’s a quarterback. If second-year receiver Garrett Wilson, the 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, went down injured, the futures odds would change as well. But there’s a reason that teams aren’t giving big-money deals, for the most part, to running backs any longer: They are largely interchangeable.
Thus there hasn’t been a single futures change for the Jets thus far, although obviously optimistic #TakeFlight fans could eventually shift them. Cook had been looking for a one-year $10 million deal, which is approximately would he would have made with the Vikings this year, but wasn’t finding it after shopping his talents essentially around the AFC East: Buffalo, New England and Miami were also interested.
The #GoPats signed former Cowboys Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott on Monday – that didn’t do a thing for their futures, either, and then the Cook news broke shortly after. That may have been the Jets simply trying to keep him from the Bills and Dolphins. Cook’s younger brother James is a second-year tailback on Buffalo and both are from the Miami area.
Cook is reportedly at least a week away from being able to practice as he recovers from shoulder surgery he underwent in February. This signing was likely two other things as well: An insurance move as second-year tailback Breece Hall works his way back from a torn ACL, and Rodgers getting what he wanted. The four-time MVP recently volunteered to take a $35 million pay cut, creating financial flexibility to sign players such as Cook. The Jets have added nearly everyone Rodgers has wanted them to this offseason, including former Packers wideouts Allan Lazard and Randall Cobb.
Once the Jets figured out what they had in Hall last year, he took over as the featured back and blew up – to the point he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite before that ACL injury in Week 7. He is still on the PUP list, although reports are he will come off it today and that the team is very hopeful he’ll be ready for Week 1. Now the Jets don’t have to push it. No doubt Cook may hurt Hall’s “fantasy” value overall, though. The last jets player to run for 1,000 yds in a season was Chris Ivory in 2015.
New York is now the first team in NFL history to add a quarterback and running back in the same offseason after both reached the Pro Bowl in four of the previous five seasons. The books only care about Rodgers.
The Jets are +2 at home for Week 1 against Buffalo, and that hasn’t changed with this news, either.