Felton plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and would then become an unrestricted free agent when free agency opens in March. If the Vikings plan to bring back Adrian Peterson, the level of interest in keeping Felton around is obvious.
Peterson wasn’t a fan of fullbacks. Too often, he thought they just got in his way. But in his first season with Felton plowing the road, he ran for 2,097 yards. If the Vikings plan on moving forward with A.P. as their featured running back, keeping Felton would be logical. If they’re moving, so is Felton.
Asked what motivated his decision to potentially test the free agent waters, Felton feels he is at the top of his game and, if he hits the free agent market, there will be a bull market for his skill set.
“I feel like it’s going to be bright regardless,” Felton said. “I feel like if, you look at the film, I’m the bomb. I feel I’m at the top of the heap when it comes to fullbacks.”
The sticking point with Felton’s contract is that it calls for him to be paid $2.5 million – a huge sum for a fullback and one that provides him no guarantee that he would be on the final 53-man roster next year.
As he sees it, opting out of the final year allows him to test the waters – even though he is unlikely to receive the kind of contract number he is slated to make in 2015.
Whether it’s coming back to the Vikings to be A.P.’s running mate or moving on, Felton said nothing is etched in stone as far as a decision has been made. All he will commit to is that he wants to be somewhere he is wanted – whether in Minnesota or another stop of his NFL journey.
“We’ll see,” Felton said. “I’m excited about my future. I think my best football’s ahead of me.”
The biggest difference in Felton’s role with the Vikings without Peterson and with A.P. was significant. In 2012-13, Felton was typically on the field for about 25 plays leading the way for Peterson. This year, without Peterson, he’s been on the field for about 11 plays a game.
Felton was the one person who felt the absence of Peterson more than anyone else. Asked to assess the difference, Felton said the right things, despite admitting that Peterson vs. no Peterson has significantly diminished his role in the offense.
“I think it did,” Felton said. “If you if you look at Norv’s offense, his intention is to have that power in front of the No. 1 guy – Lorenzo Neal (in San Diego). It probably did (change), but I’ve had a good time this year. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the coaching staff.”
Does Felton see himself coming back? Apparently, he and Peterson may be tied together with the future of the Vikings offense – for better or worse. Felton and the Vikings are both keeping their options open and, asked if he envisions himself in Mankato in late July of 2015, Felton was vague.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s too early to say. You never know what happens. I’m not going to rule anything out, but, like I say, I’m looking forward to the future.”
Home: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, St. Louis, Seattle, Kansas City, San Diego, N.Y. Giants.
Away: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Arizona, San Francisco, Denver, Oakland, Atlanta.