MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Vikings nose tackle Michael Pierce has opted out of playing in the 2020 season, as officials with the NFL continue prepping for what the season will look like amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

According to multiple reports, Pierce — who was brought in as a free agent to replace the Vikes’ Linval Joseph — has cited respiratory concerns as the reason for his decision.

Pierce was among the Vikings’ most high-profile acquisitions. He previously played for the Baltimore Ravens, and the Vikings picked him up for a three-year, $27 million contract starting in 2020.

Pierce has been described as a sturdy 6’0″ 340-pound rock of a nose tackle who came into the league as an undrafted free agent. He started half of the 60 Ravens games he appeared in, 14 of them last season, and has notched 151 tackles to date.

It’s not the only COVID-19 related headline from the Vikings franchise over the last day. Earlier, Justin Jefferson, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, was one of four Vikings players that were placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. That’s a list for players who either tested positive for the virus or who have been quarantined after having been in close contact with an infected person or persons.

Also on Monday, the Vikings announced that Eric Sugarman, the team’s head trainer VP of sports medicine as well as the club’s infection control officer, tested positive for COVID-19 along with members of his family.

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