Adrian Peterson’s future with the Minnesota Vikings remains up in the air, at least publicly, but general manager Rick Spielman indicated Thursday that he knows what the Vikings will do with Peterson’s situation but won’t make any announcements just yet.
Minnesota’s star running back is due to cost the Vikings $18 million against the salary cap, almost twice the amount of the next highest paid running back in the NFL. That, along with Peterson’s lack of availability two of the last three seasons due to injury and legal issues, signals a strong possibility that Peterson will be allowed to hit the free-agent market in two weeks.
Peterson has a year remaining on his contract, but the Vikings can opt out of that final year without any negative salary-cap implications. The fact that he is due a $6 million roster bonus at the start of free agency also signals his likely exit from Minnesota in the coming weeks.
“He has a significant contract coming up. We have to make a decision. When that decision is made, we’ll let you guys know, but until I talk to Adrian and talk to his agent, I’m not going to announce anything,” Spielman said Thursday during a 55-minute talk with reporters.
“But that will get addressed here before free agency starts. The one thing I’ll say is if we don’t exercise that option, we always will keep the door open on all of our players.”
The Vikings plan to meet with the agents for all of their players that are scheduled for free agency at the NFL Scouting Combine next week. After that, their decision likely will be made public.
Another aspect of the situation that indicates Peterson will be released, or at a minimum be asked to take a severe cut in pay, is that the Vikings have a new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur. Peterson played only one game in the nine outings that Shurmur was the coordinator last year, and the philosophical approach to the offense is likely to change, although Shurmur said last week that one of his top priorities is to improve a run offense that was ranked last in the NFL in 2016.
Spielman said he is learning the traits desired from offensive players with Shurmur’s style.
“Why haven’t we run the ball better? Was it because we didn’t have good enough personnel up front? Was sometimes because it was the running back situation?” Spielman said. “There are a lot of different factors that go into it, but I want to make sure from a personnel side that we are all in sync with Pat and what his ideas are on offense and the type of players that we’re looking for.”
Head coach Mike Zimmer has become more involved in the offensive analysis this offseason and certainly has had input on whether or not Peterson should return, and, if so, at what cost.
“There is a lot of other decisions that I know have been decided. But until I do it where I speak with that player first and I speak with the agent first, I would never want a player or agent to ever read anything in the media without me addressing it with them personally and first,” said Spielman who added that he hasn’t spoken with Peterson or his agent about the team’s plans.
“But in my mind, regardless of whether Adrian is here or not here next year because of whatever happens, he will always be a Minnesota Viking. If he’s fortunate enough to go into the Hall of Fame and fortunate enough to go in the Ring of Honor, in my mind he’s a Minnesota Viking.”