The long-time face of the Vikings franchise met with owners Mark and Zygi Wilf in New York on Monday, as first reported by USA Today.
After playing in the 2014 season opener and spending the final 15 games away from the team – either on the commissioner’s exempt list or serving a suspension handed down by the NFL – while dealing with legal issues stemming from child abuse charges in Texas that he eventually pleaded down to no-contest misdemeanor reckless assault, Peterson’s future has been in the doubt in Minnesota.
Since the season ended, Vikings officials have stated their desire to have Peterson back with the team. Everyone from team owner and president Mark Wilf to Spielman to Zimmer has voiced their public desire – some of them several times – to have Peterson return to the team. Even so, Peterson told ESPN last month that was “uneasy” about a potential return and that if the decision was left up to his wife Ashley, he wouldn’t return.
The NFL confirmed on Tuesday that Peterson can be traded freely while on the exempt list.
“There is nothing to prevent a player on exempt from signing a contract or having his contract transferred by his team (traded),” league spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail to Viking Update.
Peterson indicated that he felt his family was wrongly harassed in Minnesota while he dealt with his legal issues, and his concern about returning continued when he issued a statement following a ruling by Judge David Doty in his favor last month that overturned his suspension. The NFL is appealing that suspension and the Star Tribune reported Monday that briefings for that appeal aren’t due until the end of May, meaning his status with the league likely will remain in doubt until at least June.
Following Doty’s ruling however, the NFL removed Peterson from the suspended list and placed him back on the commissioner’s exempt list, which opened the door for him to communicate with anyone in the organization. Prior to that, only limited individuals, including the executive director of player development Les Pico, could talk with Peterson.
Zimmer is considered the key to reaching a resolution with Peterson, but it’s unclear if that remains the odds-on favorite. He could be traded once the new league year starts at 3 p.m. Central Tuesday, but the Vikings clearly want to smooth the relationship with him and retain him.
Peterson is due a $12.75 million salary in 2015.
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