Season-ending injury to Bills running back may cause Patriots to lose out on free agent

Nyheim Hines' injury might make the Bills more interested in signing Dalvin Cook
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) in action
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (4) in action / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Since the news broke last week that the Patriots dropped the ball in signing DeAndre Hopkins, they have continued to be reported as the most likely team to land another star free agent, Dalvin Cook.

Although there have not been any formal reports indicating New England's interest in the running back, he has consistently been connected to them by the media and Vegas bettors. Whether or not there's any truth to the rumors remains to be seen.

However, if Bill Belichick is considering signing the four-time Pro Bowler to help Rhamondre Stevenson next season, they may have stiffer competition to deal with now.

On Monday morning, NFL reporter Tom Pelissero broke devasting news regarding Bills' running back Nyheim Hines suffering a season-ending injury. As one of Buffalo's more seasoned players out of the backfield, it is a major hit to their roster as they prepare to begin training camp this week.

The loss could push the Bills to revisit their previously alleged interest in signing Cook, especially as the running back remains a free agent, and the entire AFC East has been said to be in on signing him.

If Cook were to move on to the Bills, he would join his brother there, James Cook, along with Damien Harris, rookie Jordan Mims, and Latavius Murray.

The problem, however, is the current cap space the team is dealing with. Since Cook has remained a free agent, most assume he's looking for a contract similar to, if not better, than what the Vikings were set to pay him, which was around $11 million.

Of course, there are ways the Bills could free up some cap if they want to pursue Cook. But the question becomes, do they need to?

Is Hines such a significant loss that they would need to bring in a guy like Cook to make up for it?

It's possible, but the desire to sign him would be more about putting their team over the top and increasing their chances to win the division and more than about the loss of Hines.

Considering the differences between the Bills and Patriots' immediate futures, it's fair to assume if given the option, Cook would choose to sign with Buffalo. If he's looking for a chance at winning a Super Bowl soon, that's probably not the Patriots.

But if he's looking for a big payday, he might consider New England.

It all depends if Belichick is even interested, which we have yet to hear about from reliable sources. It's clear they're more than confident with Rhamondre Stevenson, as they should be. But the release of James Robinson may make them contemplate bringing in a similar running back to help Stevenson throughout the season.

However, as of Monday afternoon, the Patriots filled their 90-man roster, so they would need to move on from someone if they want to bring in Cook. Unfortunately, if that is the case, they may need to act fast to snag him before Buffalo gets the chance.