EAGAN, Minn. –The suspense is over. For now.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was one of the first Vikings players to show up at TCO Performance Center on Tuesday, the team’s mandatory reporting date for veteran players, to take his initial COVID-19 test, a league source told ESPN. Cook is expected to take a part in this afternoon’s virtual meetings that begin for veteran players, sources said.
By reporting on time, Cook will not lose credit for the 2020 season, which would have made him a restricted free agent in 2021 instead of an unrestricted free agent.
The running back’s camp announced in June that Cook would hold out from all team activities until he receives a contract extension entering the final year of his rookie contract. According to multiple sources, Vikings coaches and staff had been under the impression that Cook was always planning to show up at the mandatory reporting date.
Over the weekend, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters that he expected Cook to report on Tuesday and cited the running back as having told him of his intentions. Cook’s agent, Zac Hiller, refuted the coach’s comments, telling ESPN that Cook “has not spoken to [Zimmer] in regards to reporting to camp. We are unsure why this was said. I hope Dalvin can continue to play a major role in the Vikings future success.”
On Monday, Zimmer announced on the Vikings radio affiliate KFAN that Cook would be a captain for the 2020 season.
Cook is set to make $1.3 million on the final year of his rookie contract. The running back is still in search of a contract extension with the Vikings.
Minnesota also learned on Tuesday that recently acquired defensive lineman Michael Pierce is opting out for the 2020 season due to respiratory concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. Pierce, 27, signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Vikings in March and was expected to replace Linval Joseph at nose tackle.
“If I caught [the coronavirus], I probably would be in some real trouble,” Pierce, who suffers from asthma, told the Pioneer Press. “If I were to get sick, any time you’re talking about a fatality or ending up in the hospital for months, that’s not really a good decision.”
The $3 million base salary Pierce was set to make during his first year in Minnesota will now be his salary for 2021. Because he falls into the high-risk category, he will receive a $350,000 stipend by opting out of the season.
“It’s not about the money,” Pierce said. “If I was a normal human being with a normal functioning respiratory system, I’d be out there without a thought. It’s an unfortunate situation but it’s something I’ve been battling and I got to deal with the rest of my life. So, hopefully we get a vaccine or something where I can get back out here this spring. But as of right now, it’s not going to be possible.”