The Minnesota Vikings are heading into their bye week on a high note after a 24-21 victory against the Carolina Panthers. Over the next few days, however, they'll need to discuss at least one sobering and multi-leveled topic.
Namely: What to do about cornerback Chris Cook?
The Vikings suspended Cook last week without pay following his arrest in a domestic abuse incident and subsequent charge of felony strangulation. The NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) typically allows such suspensions to continue for four weeks. At that point, the Vikings would probably need to reinstate Cook or set him free via release.
Cook's next court appearance isn't scheduled until Nov. 22. But the Vikings might not wait that long to make a call on his future. Asked Monday if Cook could be released during the bye week, coach Leslie Frazier told reporters: "We've got a lot of things to talk about."
That's hardly a vote of confidence and reflects how seriously the Vikings have taken the charges against Cook. Releasing him would be a quick decision that, while perhaps justified, would make a substantial impact on the team's future.
Cook was the Vikings' top draft pick in 2010 and was developing into a starting-caliber cornerback early this season. The Vikings paid him a signing bonus of $2.3 million in 2010 and he was scheduled to receive a $1 million roster bonus this year on top of his $450,000 base salary.
The Vikings have roster shortages at a number of positions, but the hope was that Cook would alleviate one of them. A team in roster transition like the Vikings can ill afford to lose a promising 24-year-old cornerback.
But those issues are secondary to this matter. Whether it is this week or next month, a franchise that has placed a high priority on the good citizenship of its employees will face a difficult decision. Are the allegations alone enough to end Cook's employment? Will the Vikings await a legal verdict? Or will they remain in a holding pattern? Stay tuned.