Chris Cook reinstated by Vikings, but won't play while facing charge
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Chris Cook remains a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but he won't be getting back on the field anytime soon.
The Vikings released a statement on Monday afternoon saying that Cook "will remain on our 53 man roster but will not participate in our football activities at this time. We have met with Chris and spoken with his agent and have agreed that currently, Chris should focus on his off the field matters."
Cook, 24, is free while awaiting trial on a felony strangulation charge stemming from his Oct. 22 arrest for domestic assault after an incident involving his girlfriend. A judge cleared the second-year cornerback to travel for work, but the Vikings suspended him without pay three days after the arrest.
Coach Leslie Frazier confirmed after practice that Cook has been removed from the suspended list and will be paid again beginning this week, although he won't practice or play until further notice.
"We really think that's it best for him to really focus on the legal matters and not be a part of what we're doing right now," Frazier said. "That's what he believes as well, along with his agent, that he needs to really focus on his case, which is a very serious matter as we all know and something organizationally we're all very concerned about and we want him to put his energy and his efforts into that case."
The collective-bargaining agreement permits a team to suspend a player for four games for conduct detrimental to the team. With Cook's next court appearance not scheduled until Nov. 22, the Vikings' options were limited: restore him to the active roster, or waive him and risk a union grievance.
Frazier referred to Cook's ban as "a one-game suspension" that was in effect for the Carolina game on Oct. 30 and confirmed the Vikings have "talked at length with the league office on a constant basis" about how to approach the situation.
"It's hard to say that we're going see him again (this season), considering what he's facing," Frazier said. "But we'll see what happens."
An NFL spokesman said the league continues to review the case but has no further comment.
If convicted, Cook would face three years in prison and a $5,000 fine, although Minnesota's presumptive sentencing guidelines suggest Cook is unlikely to face the maximum sentence. He said the team has "no idea" what will happen with the case.
"We really haven't talked about his case," Frazier said. "We stayed away from that. We talked about our team and what we are trying to get done, but really haven't talked to him about his case."
Cook hasn't made any public statements since his arrest aside from a couple of messages posted on his Twitter account the day he was released from jail. He also was arrested on a gun charge in March, but he was acquitted of brandishing a gun in an argument with his neighbor.
There's no question the Vikings believe in Cook's talent. He received a $2.3 million signing bonus as their top draft pick (No. 34 overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft and had been playing the best football of his young career before the arrest.
Reinstating Cook to the active roster means he'll resume receiving weekly checks of $26,470, even though he won't be playing and the team could have suspended him for a couple more weeks.
Asked if he sees Cook in the team's future plans, Frazier said, "It's so tough to say today as we stand here in November, considering the situation and not knowing how it's going to play out. It's hard to look at the future."
So, what's the best-case scenario?
"You hope for the best, whatever that is," Frazier said. "You hope for the best-case scenario. Hopefully, allegations aren't true. Hopefully, he gets things turned around."