Peterson didn't complain about falling to the seventh overall draft pick in 2007. He didn't complain about sharing time with Chester Taylor at the beginning of his rookie season, despite starting off his professional career with 103 yards rushing and a screen pass that he took 60 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL game.
Life in the NFL has been pretty good to Peterson, but, according to former NFL personnel man Michael Lombardi, that could change soon. In a column he penned for NFL.com, under the "Things I hear" section, Lombardi wrote: "The next player to complain about his contract will be Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who missed the mandatory minicamp due to a scheduling conflict."
Interestingly, NFL Network – the same outlet that also employs Lombardi – aired a brief interview with Peterson late last week (five days after Lombardi's column) in which he was asked if he can put the rumors of his dissatisfaction with his contract to rest. Peterson simply stated, "You can put them to rest."
He wasn't asked to expand on his feelings over his contract or his brief answer. At the very least, he doesn't appear ready to make a public appeal for a new contract – and that is the right move for a Pro Bowl player that still has some holes in his game.
Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy preaches patience for Peterson on the football field. That would be a good quality for the star running back to possess off the field right now, too.
Peterson came into the league a star, earned offensive rookie of the year, and is considered one of the best backs in the league, if not the best … but he still has to prove a few things before he tries to break out of his current contract.
In his first three years, Peterson could make the argument that he was underpaid relative to his production. His average salary over the six-year contract he signed was nearly $3.9 million, which might sound like a lot but doesn't even put him in the top 10 Vikings last year. However, much of his rookie contract, which runs through 2012, was built on stacks of incentives, and he's continued to hit them with big rushing seasons and plenty of awards.
His contract called for $17 million guaranteed, and could be worth $40.5 million if he hits those incentives, many of which are already in the bank.
He was the offensive rookie of the year in 2007, which cashed him $250,000. He rushed for 1,000 yards in two of his first three seasons, which earned him an additional $2.5 million. But the cash register continued to ring into the millions with each 1,000-yard season, playing-time incentives and Pro Bowl selections.
In all, Peterson could earn almost $20 million in incentives over the life of his rookie contract, and he shows no signs of decreased production. He's been relatively healthy, gaining over 1,300 yards per season and making Pro Bowls in each of his three NFL seasons.
Still, there are reasons Peterson needs to show patience off the field when it comes to his contract.
Peterson didn't show up to minicamp, purportedly because it was the same weekend as Adrian Peterson Day in his hometown of Palestine, Texas. Now there is a feeling his contract may have had as much to do with his absence. He didn't expand on his denial last week, so it's impossible to know for sure how far over the horizon this becomes a public issue.
What we do know is that if his contract is an issue, he could get more mileage out of being patient on and off the field.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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