Earlier Tuesday, we noted that Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook had put his coach in a tough spot. Arrested Saturday morning in a domestic assault case, jailed during Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers and charged Tuesday in a complaint that included felony strangulation, Cook had cast a spotlight on coach Leslie Frazier.
CookHow would Frazier respond? Would he welcome Cook back to practice Wednesday? Would he await NFL discipline, which can take months? Would he deactivate Cook (with pay) for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers?
In the end, Frazier took the most aggressive path available under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Vikings suspended Cook without pay "while we continue to gather information regarding the situation," according to a statement released late Tuesday night. The CBA allows a maximum of a four-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, which I presume the Vikings have classified the act of being incarcerated on game day.
Cook's base salary this season is $450,000, meaning he will lose $26,471 for every game he misses.
I wondered if Frazier would take a less aggressive approach while gathering facts on the case, but it might not have been his decision to make. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has worked hard to reverse the franchise's notorious off-field history, and with his stadium push nearing a crucial time, I'm sure Wilf was highly motivated to act quickly and decisively.
From a football perspective, the suspension will make a significant impact. Cook was the Vikings' top draft pick in 2010, their best cornerback of 2011 and one of their few young players who appeared ready to move up the depth chart this season. Without him Sunday, the Vikings' undermanned secondary allowed Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to have a near-perfect game in a 33-27 Green Bay victory.
Based on the tawdry details in the police report, however, I'm not sure the Vikings had a choice here. They've got about a month to decide whether this suspension is enough punishment or if they will cut him outright. Stay tuned.