EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings will be without one of the biggest – literally – offseason acquisitions after he announced he's opting out of the season due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.
According to Tom Pelissero with the NFL Network, Michael Pierce, a 6-foot, 340-pound nose tackle won't be suiting up for the Vikings for the upcoming season.
Pierce was brought in to help fill the void left by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who signed with the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason.
The NFL and its players association agreed to an opt-out clause for the upcoming season. Those who choose to voluntarily sit out will receive a $150,000 stipend and those with medical opt outs will receive $350,000 rather than their contractual salary, two people with knowledge of the decisions told The Associated Press.
Pierce joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 as an undrafted free agent where he played four seasons before signing a three-year deal with the Vikings this offseason.
Pierce isn't the only NFL player to choose to opt out of the season due to the pandemic. New England Patriots star linebacker Dont'a Hightower also announced he was opting out of the season. A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that Hightower’s decision was made out of concern for the health of his fiancée and child, who was born earlier this month.
Newly acquired Green Bay Packers receiver Devin Funchess also announced on Instagram that he was opting out of the season, too. Funchess, who the Packers signed in the offseason, said his decision was made to protect family members, who "have experienced the life-threatening impact of COVID-19 first hand," Funchess said in his post.
Pierce's decision comes a day after the Vikings announced the team's Infection Control Officer Eric Sugarman tested positive for COVID-19. Four Vikings rookies, including first-round selection Justin Jefferson, were also placed on a new COVID-19 reserve list, created for players who have either tested positive or who have been quarantined for being in contact with someone who is infected with the coronavirus.
According to the team, Jefferson and fellow rookie Blake Brandel, Brian Cole II, and Tyler Higby were all placed on the list. The Vikings would not confirm if the players tested positive for COVID-19.