Cowboys + Peterson? Another New Reality
Our Yahoo buddy Charles Robinson notes that Adrian Peterson will be skipping this week's organized team activities for the Minnesota Vikings and insists there is a baseline reason: "To send an unmistakable message to the franchise: He wants to be traded.''
That angle will get no argument from here. But that angle must, in our opinion, be paired with another angle: Peterson can be pacified as soon as Minny is willing to take a large chunk of his three-year remaining salary and guarantee it.
This story stretches back to the day last summer when AD and Jerry Jones found themselves on the same phone line, continued when Peterson received criticism and punishment for his domestic violence issue involving the disciplining of his children, and carries on now with what many say is a continuing "uneasiness'' Adrian (and his wife) feel regarding a lack of support in Minnesota.
AD's quotes from earlier in the spring: "This came from the state I love so much, that I wish to bring a championship to? This is how they treat me when I’m down and out? You kick me? ... My wife (and I), we’ve had several conversations about me returning to Minnesota, what the best options are. If I left it up to her, I’d be somewhere else today, and that’s with her weighing everything. It’s a lot for me to weigh; she understands that. But there are some things that I’m still uneasy about.”
But there is, of course, a way to make a player and his family feel supported: Convert pieces of his remaining salary -- $13 mil for this year, $15 mil for 2016 and $17 mil for 2017, none of it guaranteed -- into bonus money that is guaranteed.
Peterson reportedly harbors a belief that his family would benefit from a new start in a new city. And agent Ben Dogra tells Bleacher Report that "He is very very strong ... he's like (infamously stubborn holdout star Darrelle Revis,'' suggesting this absence from voluntary work could mushroom into a full-blown holdout. So the unhappiness is real ...
But the idea that unhappiness will be sated in Dallas remains highly unlikely.
A disclaimer, as always, is handy here: Read my column here on how with a simple sip of some Johnny Walker Blue and a finger to his flip phone, Jerry Jones could alter the Cowboys' well-considered decision to pass on AD.
Armed with that knowledge, know that:
*Dallas absolutely views AD as superior to its existing running back stable, and absolutely superior to anyone in anybody else's stable as well. Paying $9 mil a year to DeMarco Murray was never going to happen; if Peterson was easily available to Dallas at that same price, the decision to nab him would also be easy.
*He is not, however, "easily available.'' The Cowboys and Vikings have still never actually talked about a trade, I'm told. Furthermore, parties close to the situation believe Arizoza is prepared to outbid other AD suitors. And then there is this: If the Vikings were really to fold to Peterson's wishes and grant him a trade, he'd not only have to negotiation a new deal with his new club (and there wouldn't be $13 mil guarantees in there, I don't think), Minny would also likely have to accept a package featuring a 2016 draft pick.
That would mean the Vikings, hoping for contention now with the 30-year-old AD as the foundation, sacrificing their best player in 2015 ... and not getting rewarded for doing so until next spring. Essentially, Minnesota would be forfeiting the season. ... after having done so last year due to AD's 15-game suspension.
Jerry's lieutenants have strongly urged Jones to stay away from this temptation, as CHQ wrote all the way back on March 20. That has not changed. AD is playing hardball -- he'll forfeit a $250,000 bonus if he misses OTAs (though if he stays in Minnesota and gets salary converted to bonus, he's make it right up) -- so that has not changed, either.
The Dallas Cowboys' first step in their running-back evaluation process comes Tuesday when OTAs open up at Valley Ranch. We're told Joe Randle will get the first crack at the job. Darren McFadden will be included in the process. So will Ryan Williams. Should they fall short -- Randle because he fails to prove trustworthy as a day-to-day professional on the field and a day-to-day adult off it, and McFadden because he's somehow physically fragile -- the next step will be the examination of a trade.
Jerry will be salivating, wanting to push that button for The $45-million AD. Stephen Jones and Will McClay will suggest someone like Miami's Lamar Miller (and his $1.5 mil price tag), strong in their belief that the Dallas offense can be run-friendly and cap-friendly at the same time.
The media will want to push for Ray Rice to Dallas but that's not a Dallas story. The media will push for Chris Johnson but that's not a Dallas story. The Cowboys, I can promise you, have no real interest in either of them. (Is there a running back you've heard of who's NOT rumored to be Dallas-bound?) Adrian Peterson? It'd be foolish to say there isn't "interest.'' But it'd also be bogus to say AD is a Dallas story.
Adrian Peterson is in a "happiness pursuit'' enveloped in a "contract dispute.'' And that's not Dallas' problem. It's Minnesota's problem.
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