After missing nearly the entire 2014 NFL season due to his child abuse scandal, Adrian Peterson was setting himself up for problems in 2015. Those problems began at the Scouting Combine when Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra had to be separated from the Minnesota Vikings Vice President Rob Brzezinski, after which Dogra made it clear that the 2012 NFL MVP would never wear a Vikings uniform again.
The Vikings have met with Peterson twice in March in an attempt to rebuild those burnt bridges. General Manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer had a home visit to talk to their star running back early in the month, and then more recently Peterson met with owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf along with Spielman in New York City.
At both of these meetings, Peterson expressed his concerns and uneasiness with continuing his career in Minnesota. Despite AP’s message to the top dogs in the organization, the Vikings have made it clear that they will not release Peterson, who is still under contract with the Vikings through 2017.
Things between Peterson and the Vikings aren’t getting any better: last Saturday Dogra denied an invitation from Spielman to meet over dinner during the upcoming NFL Owner’s meetings in Arizona.
Now the Vikings are faced with a difficult decision—keep the 30 year old back in 2015 and pay him $13 million in hopes that he will play to his full potential, or trade him and his huge contract to some willing team with a lot of cap space.
Well, the Vikings wouldn’t be smart to get rid of the best running back in the NFL. Peterson will be reinstated on April 15th, and the Vikings have made no attempt to replace their superstar.
“Adrian’s a member of our football team,” said Spielman. “He’s under contract with us. We are focused on the 2015 season and expect Adrian to be part of that. Our whole focus is getting ready for that season with Adrian.”
From a purely football perspective, the Vikings should do all they can to retain their star running back and make him happy. Norv Turner is trying to build a well-balanced offense around young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings have already brought in Mike Wallace this offseason, a speedy receiver who will help spread out the defense and make things easier on Peterson. In return, Peterson’s rushing will help free up Wallace down the field.
On top of that, it would be almost impossible for a trade involving Adrian Peterson to work out in the Vikings favor. Peterson is worth a lot, so the Vikings would certainly expect a lot in return for him. In other words, the Vikings would need to find a team willing to give up a couple of 1st round draft picks and maybe a superstar as well for Peterson and his tremendous salary—$13 million in 2015, $15 million in 2016, and $18 million in 2017.
The whole situation is just a mess. Peterson was a huge distraction for the team in 2014, and it is already clear that the distractions will continue this coming season. The Vikings have a lot of things to consider, as keeping an unhappy superstar on the roster could be setting the franchise up for a disaster in 2015. Also, good luck restricting his contract if they decide to keep him against his own wishes.
At the end of the day, Adrian Peterson is a fantastic player despite his off the field problems. The Vikings will need to decide whether or not Peterson is a distraction would having.