Dalvin Cook says Aaron Rodgers’ presence helped lure him to Jets

Dalvin Cook says Aaron Rodgers’ presence helped lure him to Jets

Dalvin Cook: Aaron Rodgers’ game recruited me (0:29)

Dalvin Cook didn’t need a sales pitch from Aaron Rodgers to know that he wanted to play for the Jets. (0:29)

  • Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff WriterAug 17, 2023, 02:50 PM ET

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      Rich Cimini is a staff writer who covers the New York Jets and the NFL at ESPN. Rich has covered the Jets for over 30 years, joining ESPN in 2010. Rich also hosts the Flight Deck podcast. He previously was a beat writer for the New York Daily News and is a graduate of Syracuse University. You can follow him via Twitter @RichCimini.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Running back Dalvin Cook didn’t need to hear an aggressive sales pitch from Aaron Rodgers to sign with the New York Jets. It was unspoken.

“He doesn’t have to recruit; his game recruits itself,” Cook said Thursday — his first full day as a member of the Jets. “Aaron is Aaron. If you don’t want to be part of something like that, I don’t know what you want in football.”

After six years of facing Rodgers in the NFC North, Cook decided to join him because he “couldn’t be on the other side anymore.” Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers won five of the past eight meetings against the Minnesota Vikings, who cut Cook in June after he had been selected to four straight Pro Bowls.

Other than Rodgers, Cook, 28, said he was attracted to the Jets because of a win-now roster and the chance to win a championship.

“Obviously, when you dig deep and look into the roster, all the pieces are put together,” he said.

The burning issue is how the Jets will divide the workload between Cook and Breece Hall, who participated in team drills Thursday for the first time since ACL surgery last October. Hall is expected to be ready for Week 1. So is Cook, even though he won’t start practicing until next week.

Cook, who has more rushing attempts since 2019 (1,075) than every player except Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry, faces the prospect of being a complementary back once Hall is 100%. The Jets plan to lean on Cook early in the season, but that likely will change as Hall rounds into form. They also have Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight. Cook said the running-back room “can be something special.”

Asked about his specific role, he said, “Just be Dalvin Cook. Just be me. When my number is called, go be explosive.”

After signing a one-year, $7 million contract on Wednesday, Cook attended meetings and reported for his first practice Thursday. He worked out in the rehab area with the other injured players. Cook underwent shoulder surgery in February and still hasn’t been cleared. He expects to practice “within the next few days,” following a trip to his South Florida home this weekend for the birth of his first child.

“Dalvin has got it done for a long time at a high level,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “He’s motivated, he wants to win a championship. Obviously, he made it well-known to me during the process he wanted to play with me and play here, in Jersey, so we’re excited to have him.”

Rodgers, who took a $35 million pay cut, in large part, to give the front office the flexibility to add players, said he wanted Cook. But he downplayed his role in the process.

“Not that I needed to sign off on it, but I was interested,” Rodgers said. “I’d seen him first-hand a number of years in the North. Adding a great player to a football team is always a good thing.”

Cook declined to name his other suitors, though the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots reportedly had levels of interest. By signing with an AFC East team, it means two games against his brother, Buffalo Bills running back James Cook. The Jets open the season against the Bills on “Monday Night Football.”

“I just hope we don’t give our mom a heart attack,” he said, smiling. “She’s nervous, man. But I think it’ll be fun. It will be good for our family, and it will be good for him, just going at it with him.”

With Cook, Hall and wide receiver Garrett Wilson, among others, the Jets have the makings of an explosive offense if they can sort out their offensive line issues. Cook envisions big things.

“It’s an oiled machine,” he said. “We just have to keep oiling it up and get … things ready to go for Week 1.”

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