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. The league's recently-implemented reserve/COVID-19 list includes 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. If a player falls into either category, their team is required to immediately place the player on the list. Teams are not permitted, per the agreed-upon NFL-NFLPA policy, to comment on player's medical status other than referring to roster cuts. Furthermore, teams may not disclose whether a player is in quarantine or is positive for COVID-19.
Earlier in the day, 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. The four players mentioned in the team's reserve/COVID-19 list have not had any contact with Sugarman, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The fifth receiver selected in this year's draft, the 6-foot-1, 201-pound Jefferson is coming off of a prolific final season with the LSU Tigers. Last fall, Jefferson caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns while helping Tigers cap off an undefeated season. The Vikings are hoping that Jefferson can help replace Stefon Diggs, who was traded to the Bills earlier this offseason.
The Vikings were not the only NFL team to place players on their reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. The Jaguars placed four rookies -- cornerback Luq Barcoo, defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, cornerback Josiah Scott and offensive lineman Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms -- on the list. Another notable rookie, Buccaneers third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn, was placed on the club's reserve/COVID-19 list. Vaughn, who rushed for 2,272 yards and 21 touchdowns during his final season at Vanderbilt, is expected to compete for playing time alongside current starter Ronald Jones.
On Friday, Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of playing for the defending champion Chiefs in 2020, Duvernay-Tardif, who graduated from medical school in the spring of 2018, will focus his efforts on fighting the ongoing pandemic. Two other players, Seahawks offensive lineman Chance Warmack and Ravens receiver De'Anthony Thomas, have also chosen to take the league's voluntary opt-out clause.
NFL teams have been permitted to begin training camp on July 28. The league, despite the ongoing pandemic, remains hopeful that it can complete its typical season that is expected to include an expanded playoff format. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued the following message on Monday, via his Twitter account.
"While this year will forever be defined by a heartbreaking global pandemic and a transformative social justice movement, I am reminded of the tenacious, resilient spirit of our country, the NFL community, and you, the greatest fans in the world."