Dalvin Cook underwent his first of two coronavirus tests on Tuesday, officially reporting to Vikings training camp amid an ongoing contract dispute.
Cook’s presence at training camp was in question throughout the offseason after ESPN reported that he would not participate in any team-related activities until he receives a “reasonable” new deal in June. Information regarding his status was leaked throughout the following months — the latest a game of telephone where coach Mike Zimmer said Cook told him he’d be at training camp, while his agent denied any contact between the two.
Under the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, if Cook had not shown at training camp, he would have been fined $50,000 per training camp session missed and would not fulfill the final year of his rookie contract, meaning the Vikings could keep him for under market value in 2021 or a team would have to give the Vikings a first- or second-round pick to acquire him off of restricted free agency.
The Vikings, likely to re-enter contract negotiations with Cook, posted a video of the team’s stars arriving at camp. Cook was the first player featured — likely not a coincidence.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) July 28, 2020
Cook’s return to training camp was a sign of his commitment to the team despite the threatened holdout. Coach Mike Zimmer said he’d like to make Cook a team captain this season as another sign of the organization’s respect and support for the star running back.
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Vikings Not In the Clear Yet
Cook reporting to camp was widely expected due to the potential fines and losses he could receive, but beyond reporting to camp there is a grey area Cook could continue his holdout.
Reporting on Tuesday was more of a formality as players were simply tested for COVID-19 and will return in the following days for a second test. Cook will likely not enter the building until this weekend. From there, anything could happen.
Chad Graff of The Athletic reported that one source “floated the idea that Cook’s reporting on Tuesday might simply be a formality to avoid fines, and that he may not participate in practices if a contract extension isn’t agreed to before then.” Cook would be compliant with the CBA guidelines and could continue to limit his involvement with the team.
There is also an option for players to opt out after playing one game, although the details of why they’re opting out have to be health- and safety-related.
The Vikings have a reputation for signing players in the first week of training camp and Graff’s source told him if any progress is going to be made before the start of the regular season, it will likely happen this week.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.