At one point, it seemed that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson eventually will want to leave the team due to its chronic inability to complement his skills with a potent passing game and, in turn, wins. Given the ongoing devaluation of the tailback position and a more recent no-one-is-sacred vibe to the league’s treatment of veteran stars, it now seems that the Vikings may pull the trigger before Peterson taps out.
Peterson believes that would be a mistake.
“I think the organization would take a heavy hit — for real — more so from the fan base,” Peterson told Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “I don’t think it would be like a LeBron [James] situation where they’re burning my jersey, this, that and the other. They might be doing [the opposite] and not buying some season tickets.”
A lot of it depends on how Peterson is playing at the time the Vikings move on, if they do. Fans realize that it will make little sense to watch his cap number grow from $14.4 million this year to $15.4 million next year and ultimately to $16 million in 2017 if Peterson’s skills begin to decline.
With the top of the veteran market currently at $3.5 million per year, the Vikings could replace Peterson with an entire stable of running backs who clearly aren’t Adrian Peterson but who could be close to it, when their efforts are added together.
The Vikings consistently claim that Peterson is going nowhere. Still, at some point the team will face a difficult decision. Especially if Peterson has no desire to adjust base salaries that cap out at $15.75 million.