A couple of years ago, it seemed unlikely that running back Adrian Peterson would still be playing for the Vikings when the team opened its new stadium. Now, it’s entirely possible that the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium will have been Peterson’s last with the team.
With Peterson’s torn meniscus (and possible LCL tear) knocking him out for 3-4 months, Peterson may not be ready until the postseason. With a rash of injuries to key players it’s hard to see the team qualifying for the postseason, 2-0 start notwithstanding.
Come 2017, the Vikings owe Peterson $6 million in March, along with another $11.75 million in base salary. Given his age and his latest knee injury, that’s likely more of a commitment than the Vikings are willing to make. Absent a restructured contract that greatly reduces his compensation, Peterson likely will be cut.
And so instead of what was supposed to be an eventual passing of the baton from Peterson to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings will endure a season with neither player, and a chance that neither will be playing in purple come 2017.
As to Bridgewater, his short-term future depends on the rehab process and the team’s plans for Sam Bradford. If Bradford’s strong start continues for the balance of the season, a tough decision may be looming.
The decision as to Peterson won’t nearly be as tough. The Vikings surely won’t be paying Peterson $17.75 million in bonus and salary next year. If they can’t work something out in the offseason, whether he’ll wearing the team’s uniform again hinges on whether the team can find a way to the postseason without him.