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Could the Patriots make a play for Dalvin Cook?

After the Vikings released Dalvin Cook, dumping his $10.4 million salary for 2023, it seemed that Cook was determined to go to a team that would give him the best chance to make as much of that money as possible. Before long, however, Cook began talking about hoping to win a championship.

That’s when a sense emerged that the Dolphins and Jets had become the top contenders for Cook — especially when he was asked to elaborate on the teams that could help him get his hands on a Lombardi Trophy and he specifically mentioned those two teams .

The Dolphins are interested, at their price. The Jets have more interest than most realize, because of running back Breece Hall’s ongoing ACL recovery and because they’re already gone all in by trading for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. And there’s a net gain to being the team that gets him, since that team keeps him away from the others.

Enter the Patriots, who could keep Cook away from both of them by signing him. While they have Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots have long favored having a stable of tailbacks. James Robinson, signed early in the offseason, didn’t work.

If the goal is to be the best team in the division, which could be critical to getting in the playoffs at all given the overall difficulty of the schedules for the four AFC East teams, the Patriots could be (perhaps should be) thinking about snagging a guy who otherwise will make one of the two division rivals better.

New England’s pursuit of free-agent receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been open and obvious. If they’re considering Cook, they’re acting in a more characteristic fashion, letting their plans not be known to anyone.

Owner Robert Kraft has made it clear wants to win a seventh Super Bowl, now . And to the extent that there is internal back-and-forth about spending here’s a way to prove to everyone that the Patriots can spend, baby .