The New York Jets made waves on Monday by signing Dalvin Cook to a one-year deal worth up to $8.6 million. While Cook's inability to secure a deal earlier only further raises red flags about the state of the running back market in the NFL, his addition to the Jets roster brings about a multi-faceted move that addresses several key aspects of the team's strategy this season.
Aaron Rodgers agreeing to take a pay-cut
The Jets are making every possible effort on reaching the Super Bowl. That's greatly evident, beginning with the trade for Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers in the offseason. In fact, one key factor that paved the way for Cook's signing was Rodgers' himself agreeing to take a pay cut.
“The team gave up significant pieces for it to just be a one-year deal,” Rodgers said, via ESPN. “I'm aware of that. … Anything could happen with my body or the success we have this year, but I'm having a blast, so I really don't see this as a one-year-and-done thing.”
Rodgers original deal coming from Green Bay had nearly $110 million guaranteed, but his new deal with the Jets cut it down by $35 million. In 2023, he'll make just under $9 million, which essentially allowed the Jets to sign Cook. Rodgers, entering his 19th season in the NFL, has made his money to this point. His intentions have been made abundantly clear that he's all about helping produce a winning culture in New York, hopefully ending with a Super Bowl.
“What it comes down to is … it was the right thing that made me feel best,” Rodgers told Peter King of NBC Sports. “I thought it was important they knew how committed I was. And in my conversations with [GM] Joe [Douglas], he has made it very clear the vision for the football team. You probably agree with this. This year, compared to like 2005, the amount of transactions that happen now with guys getting cut and the amount of trades — way more than before. Big names move at the trade deadline now. I wanted to make sure that if somebody valuable came available that we'd be able to get him. I'm very happy with the contract. I feel great about it.”
Increasing Super Bowl odds
Speaking of Super Bowl, the Jets' odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy have surged after the acquisition of Cook. The team already solidified itself as a contender before Cook, boasting a roster studded with talent like Rodgers, Quinnen Williams, and young stars like Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson. Their previous +1800 odds of making the big game will certainly change after Cooks signing on Monday.
Last season showed the Jets' had potential, but the inconsistent performances from former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson highlighted the need for a more experienced quarterback, a la Aaron Rodgers. The transition from Wilson to Rodgers alone was enough to create immense Super Bowl hype, but Cooks' signing only intensifies that.
Fixing a weakness at running back
The running back room was another area of concern for the Jets. Breece Hall, the promising rookie from the previous season, found himself on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to a torn ACL he suffered in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos. Adding Cook to the roster not only provides immediate help in a big way, but also grants Hall the time he needs to fully recover and return to form.
Cook's consistent performance as a Pro Bowl running back in the past four seasons is a testament to his ability to handle a substantial workload. His versatility, strong vision, and ability to find the end zone make him a reliable option for the Jets' offense. With 1,075 rushes for 5,024 yards and 43 touchdowns over the last four seasons, Cook brings a wealth of experience that will undoubtedly bolster the Jets' ground game.
His biggest improvement coming out of last season, however, was that he could stay healthy, playing in all 17 games and finished the season as the sixth best leading rusher. If he continues to stay healthy, there will be no need to rush Hall back. By the time Hall does get healthy, though, he and Cooks could create a formidable rushing attack, giving Rodgers and the Jets offense even more weapons to use.
It's all about 2023 for the Jets
The Jets' decision to sign Cook to a one-year deal strategically aligns with what is all hinging on this singular season, not necessarily the future. But for impatient New York fans, that's okay given this team hasn't seen excitement like this in decades. It says a lot about how calculated the Jets have been in making moves such as that of Cooks, who could very well tip the scales in their favor of not only becoming Super Bowl contenders but champions when all is said and done.