Peterson signed a five-year, $40.5 million deal on July 29 that included $17 million in guaranteed money and many millions in potential incentives.
Peterson is thought to be a shoo-in for the NFL's offensive rookie of the year, an accomplishment that would garner him a $250,000 bonus this year. But his future earnings would be even more inflated if he can stay healthy the rest of the season and just maintain the average pace he's been on this season.
The No. 7 overall pick in the draft is averaging 120 yards in his 10 games played this season, a pace that would put him at 1,677 yards this season.
Peterson would earn a $2.5 million bonus if he rushes for 1,000 yards in two of his first three seasons and could potentially earn over $19.1 million if he hits other incentives.
He has already hit one 2011 incentive – for $3.9 million – by rushing for over 700 yards in any of his first five years. He'll also receive an additional $2.25 million for going over 1,000 yards rushing.
He'll earn another $1 million for meeting playing time incentives and getting 1,000 yards rushing and a playoff win. If the Vikings don't get a playoff win, he could still earn that $1 million incentive with a Pro Bowl spot (he's the leading vote-getter among running backs) or by simply making 1,300 yards rushing. That $1 million could be replaced with a $3 million bonus with any two years of meeting playing time incentives and reaching 1,000 yards rushing, along with a either a playoff win, two Pro Bowl selections or two years of 1,300 yards rushing.
There are other incentives that are highly unlikely to be reached, but he would earn $250,000 for any year of the contract that he would be named MVP of the league and $250,000 for any year he'd be named MVP of the Super Bowl.
Peterson is currently averaging 6.5 yards per carry, the highest individual average in Vikings history. Robert Smith's 5.5-yard average in 1997 is second. The team's overall 5.6 yards-per-carry average is also the best in team history.
Peterson and Chester Taylor have combined for 1,812 rushing yards, third all-time in team history, and could take the franchise lead this Sunday. Smith and Daunte Culpepper hold the record with 1,991 yards in 2000.
Taylor and/or Peterson could also move the 2007 Vikings into first place in franchise history with a 100-yard performance on Sunday. Peterson has six 100-yard efforts and Taylor has one. The single-season record is eight by Smith in 2000.
Defensive end Ray Edwards has been suspended by the league for four games without pay for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
Edwards will be eligible to return to the team after the Vikings' regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos and would be available if the team makes the playoffs.
"It's disappointing, but there are policies in place and our players have to adhere to those policies," head coach Brad Childress said. "Every team goes through challenges as you go through the year. We've been through some of our own. It's an opportunity to have others step up."
As of early Wednesday afternoon, the Vikings had not made a corresponding roster move.
Childress said he found out about the suspension on Wednesday morning and that it had nothing to do with Erasmus James making his first start of the season Sunday against the Detroit Lions in place of Edwards. James had missed the final 14 games of 2006 and was active for only one of the Vikings' first seven games this season while he recovered from two knee surgeries in the last 14 months.
"You don't start a guy unless you feel he's back to where he needed to be," Childress said of James.
However, James did not practice with the team on Wednesday. Childress said James banged his knee in Sunday's game.
Rookie Brian Robison and second-year pro Jayme Mitchell will also see increased playing time. Mitchell recorded his first sack of the season on Sunday and Robison leads the team with 4.5 sacks.
Edwards was tied for second with 4.0 sacks and was in third place on the team with 22 quarterback hurries this season.
PRO BOWL LEADERS
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson still leads his position in Pro Bowl voting with 557,873 fan votes and was sixth overall, as of Wednesday afternoon. Fullback Tony Richardson leads all NFC fullbacks with 146,238 votes. No other Vikings lead in voting at their position.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre leads all players with 842,167 votes and former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss, now with the New England Patriots, is fourth overall with 606,238 votes. The late Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins is the leading vote getter among NFC free safeties.
Players and coaches cast their votes on December 13-14 and the Pro Bowl squads are announced on Dec. 18.
"We just have to see how that muscle fatigues and responds. He had a great workout before the game and he was about 95 percent, he said," Childress said. "It's that one that you've got to turn and burst on that are you going to set yourself back? So much of it is just knowing that you can, and I think he feels like he is in a good spot where he is at right now. There will be some soreness. When you get out here and practice here for a couple of days there will be some soreness. I'd like to believe he is going to be OK."
Winfield said he experienced no problems during Wednesday's practice and made it through the full practice.