Over the last month, current Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been hitting the interview circuit, consistently maintaining that he believes he will finish his career with the Vikings – or, at a minimum, continue playing for the Vikings in 2017.
However, many other observers, both inside and outside of Winter Park, have the feeling that may not be happening.
One of them is Vikings Hall of Famer John Randle. Randle made the rounds on Radio Row at the Super Bowl and one of his stops was at the PostGame Podcast With Jeff Eisenbrand.
Randle made the comparison to Peterson’s current situation with his own. While Randle wasn’t ready to call it a career – he played three more seasons in Seattle and was selected to another Pro Bowl – he knew the Vikings were ready to move on from him whether he wanted it or not. That made the epic 41-donut game in January 2001 his last as a Viking.
"For me personally, I knew it was my last game as a Viking,” Randle said. “I knew I was leaving Minnesota, so I think in a lot of ways, I was just kind of in a standpoint of just finishing up the season because I knew I wasn't coming back. I knew they wouldn't have wanted me back.”
Randle came with experience to realize veterans on the back side of their contracts can be expendable and, when it came to Peterson, he sees the same handwriting on the wall for Peterson that he experienced himself.
When discussing what the Vikings need to do to get back to the playoffs in 2017, Randle dropped an unexpected dime when throwing in, “We’ve got to figure out who’s going to be our starting running back.”
Eisenbrand was quick to jump on that nugget, asking what exactly he meant by figuring out who the starting running back would be in 2017.
Randle didn’t mince words.
“Adrian Peterson is gone, he’ll probably be gone,” Randle said. “He can maybe come back if he can lower his pay.”
Randle added that it’s an inevitable for players and organizations to part ways and he sees that happening with the Vikings and No. 28.
While Randle misidentified a team that Peterson had discussed as a possibility if his Vikings career is over, he seems convinced that Peterson is a memory in Minnesota.
“It's a possibility because he's already said who he's looking at,” Randle said. “He's looking at other teams. I think he said Denver or some other team. You know what? Eventually we're going to have to replace him anyhow. It's sad in one way, but it's a new beginning of something else. It's an opportunity for someone else to come in and to fulfill that role because we're going to have to do it anyhow.”
Whether Randle has some insight beyond the common speculation that Peterson will likely be insulted by the realistic offer that Vikings are going to put on the table – the running back market has bottomed out – it would appear that Randle was doing more than just speaking his mind. He may have been speaking the truth from experience.