FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Dalvin Cook is having a tough time dealing with few opportunities with the New York Jets. Carl Lawson envisioned being a bigger part of the defense.
Both are frustrated with their reduced roles — and their names have been mentioned in recent trade rumors.
Cook signed a 1-year, $7 million contract with the Jets, with $5.8 million guaranteed, during training camp after six standout seasons in Minnesota, running for more than 1,100 yards in each of the past four. New York even gave Cook a “worst-case scenario” for how he might be used.
The thought was he and Breece Hall, coming off a major knee injury, would form a 1-2 punch in the Jets' backfield. Instead, Hall proved he's fully healthy and has re-established himself as one of the most exciting running backs in the league. And Cook has been used only sparingly through the Jets' first six games.
“Of course, it’s frustrating,” Cook said Thursday. “I’m an honest person, man. Like, I work, I want to play, and that's just anybody. And, yeah, it’s frustrating because it's new for me. Like, I come from getting the ball 20 times a game or however many times. You know, I come from that. But yeah, of course it’s frustrating and it’s something that I’ve been adapting to.”
The 28-year-old Cook has just 109 yards on 39 carries, along with nine catches for 46 yards. His 2.8 yards per carry is by far the lowest of his NFL career.
“For me, if you've watched my career and know the type of back I am, I get better and better as the game goes,” Cook said. "More touches, feeling the defense out. Just the more touches I get, the better I get as the game goes. So I'm still kind of adjusting to that. But the carries I get, I do what I can.
“I try to be explosive. Situationally, I try to do what the team needs to be done. And that's where we're at.”
Cook hasn’t asked the Jets to be traded by the NFL’s deadline next Tuesday for deals. But he hears the speculation and isn’t necessarily opposed to it.
“It might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing,” he said. “You never know.”
He also acknowledged he’ll speak to his agent and Jets general manager Joe Douglas in the next several days about his short-term future with the team.
Hall, in his second season, ranks ninth in the NFL with 426 yards rushing on 66 carries — a league-leading 6.5 yards per attempt among qualified players — and two touchdowns.
“It wasn’t the expectation of me getting ‘X’ amount of carries or me doing anything,” Cook said. “It was just, you know, come in and be productive and, you know, things change and things happen. And we’re right here, right now, today.”
The 28-year-old Lawson is in his third season with the Jets after signing a three-year, $45 million contract with New York in the 2021 offseason. He missed his first season with the team after tearing the Achilles tendon in his left leg and needing two surgeries to repair it, but bounced back with seven sacks while playing all 17 games last season.
Lawson agreed to restructure his contract during the offseason, dropping his salary from about $15 million to $9 million, but he dealt with a back injury in training camp that lingered and missed the first game. He was then a healthy inactive in Week 5 and was seemingly surpassed on the depth chart by players such as Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff. Lawson has just three total tackles, two quarterback pressures and no sacks in limited snaps.
“I definitely want to play and contribute because I know I can," Lawson said. “I’ve proven that.”
Like Cook, Lawson said he hasn't requested a trade — but made it clear he thinks he should be playing more.
“I do want to produce and I do want to help because I’m a football player, not a cheerleader,” Lawson said. "So, yeah, that’s kind of where my head is at.”
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