The Vikings are not yet ready to welcome him back to the team three weeks after he was arrested and charged with felony strangulation following a domestic incident with his girlfriend. But after indications they were considering an outright release, the Vikings decided they were not prepared to part ways with a 24-year-old cornerback who was their top draft pick in 2010 and a cornerstone of their roster rebuilding project.
Hence the arrangement announced Monday: Cook has been reinstated from the suspended list to the Vikings' 53-man roster but will neither practice nor play for the foreseeable future. Coach Leslie Frazier said Cook needs to "focus on his case, which is a very serious matter" and said it would be "hard" to see Cook returning to the field this season.
"We'll see what happens," Frazier said.
Frazier said he didn't know if Cook figures in the Vikings' long-term plans, but I took Monday's announcement as a clear sign that he does. The Vikings almost certainly could have kept him on their unpaid suspended list for another couple weeks, but instead they will resume paying him weekly checks of $26,470 and also devote a roster spot to him. That tells me the Vikings are trying to help Cook get his issues straightened out in a pressure-free environment. They won't require him to work out at the team facility, attend practice or be obligated to any other daily responsibilities during this time period.
If they thought Cook's departure would be the ultimate result of this episode, it's hard to imagine they would have taken Monday's steps.
There is no doubt the details of Cook's arrest are disturbing, but if you think NFL teams cut every player as soon as they are charged with a felony, you need a little bit of a reality check. Right or wrong, Cook remains a valuable organization asset, one the Vikings aren't willing to make an example of.