All of the sudden, poker legend Doyle Brunson showed up at the table.
As is the custom prior to the draft, networks make their talking heads available to the media on a conference-call basis and they offer up their thoughts.
Some are diplomatic. Some run fast and loose with opinions. Others go old school.
Then there’s Bill Polian.
Polian, the general manager behind the conference success of Buffalo and Indianapolis and a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee gave an old-school opinion.
Polian is a veteran of management/player wars from battles so far back that “old school” was known simply as “school.”
Ironically, he brought a fresh perspective to the reality of the P.I. (Peterson Impasse).
If things are going to get ugly, Polian brought into the focus the size of Thor’s hammer.
A guy from the “my way or the highway” era of the NFL knows how business is conducted. If the Vikings are willing to pay Peterson above market value and honor the contract on which he put pen to paper, the control is in their court.
“I think that is a fact,” Polian said. “It’s very clear-cut. It’s black and white, despite any protestations to the contrary. Secondly, if you were to be interested in trading for him, that means the Vikings control the ability to move him. No one else. So, there is no third-party interaction here. This is a question of whether or not the Vikings want to trade Adrian Peterson to someone else. I think those two sets of facts have been lost in all the noise that surrounds this situation almost since last January.”
Polian asserted that it is the Vikings, not Peterson or his agent Ben Dogra, who hold all the cards in this scenario, saying he has been a bit surprised by the amount of credence being given to Peterson and his ability to get out of Minnesota if the Vikings don’t want him to leave.
“I hasten to add that, if the Vikings would be willing to entertain (a trade offer) and they have said just the opposite – at least from where I can tell recently – trying to determine what is fair compensation for him in a trade assumes that the Vikings would be willing to enter into such a transaction, not that someone else decides that it should take place,” Polian said.
Polian wasn’t finished there. He sees the Vikings calling the tune as to what Peterson’s value should be because, at a time when the salary for elite running backs is going down, A.P. is being overpaid and anyone who trades for him would be saddled with a big contract that is outdated by current running back standards.
“Compensation is Rick Spielman’s call and I’m not going to farm his land,” Polian said. “The fact of the matter is that (Peterson) has a very, very fair contract, in my opinion. He’s the highest paid back in the league and he has a multi-year contract. He would be ostensibly available for three more years if any team ever trades for him. To me, that mitigates whatever his age is. He’s also had a year off, which is probably, for a running back, a good thing. The extent that his age is a factor if you’re going to move him, I don’t think it is a factor because he is under club control for the next three years.”
As Polian sees it, teams are likely going to shy away from making a deal for Peterson that falls together as their team hits the clock on draft day. There are simply too many unknowns and, if a team wants Peterson, they have to know he’s going to report.
“Could you make a trade for anybody on the clock? Of course you can,” Polian said. “The question of whether or not that player will report is another issue … and that’s unknowable at this time. As a general manager, I would be very wary, given what’s gone on up to this point, that he would report and honor that contract. I would have concerns about it if I were trying to make a trade.”
At a time when a lot of people think Peterson is calling the shots, the old G.M. thinks otherwise … and there are more like-minded people in power in the NFL than there are spreading the gospel that Peterson is holding all the cards.