In the immediate aftermath of the child-abuse charges filed against Adrian Peterson, it seemed probable that he wouldn’t be playing for the Vikings after the 2014 season. It’s now likely that Peterson will never wear a Vikings uniform again.
Essentially suspended with pay until his legal case is resolved and with no sign that it’ll be resolved before the end the year, Peterson’s stat line come Week 17 will be one game, 75 yards rushing.
Then, after the season ends, the Vikings will move on. For a variety of reasons, including the $12.75 million he’s due to earn in 2015.
A week ago, the Vikings were tied to Peterson because Peterson was the face of the franchise at a time when the franchise was embarking on a two-year stay at an undersized college stadium. Now, the Vikings will have no choice but to move on from a man who has quickly become equal parts distraction and pariah.
The contract can’t be traded without a major restructuring, and Peterson may have no desire to finish his career with the Cowboys after getting a heaping helping of the not-so-hospitable Texas criminal justice system. In the end, Peterson will land with a team that can withstand the reaction from its fans and from the media — or with a team run by a G.M. and/or a head coach who need to win in order to save their jobs. Or maybe the Raiders.
Regardless, the great Paul Allen likely has shouted “He’s loose!” about Peterson for the last time. By next year, Peterson will be loose in a very different way.