Much has been said in recent days and weeks regarding whether running back Adrian Peterson will continue to play for the Vikings if/when he’s reinstated. Fueling the speculation that Peterson may not be back are comments from Peterson suggesting hesitation to return, quotes from his father regarding a perceived lack of support from the organization when Peterson tried to return to football after resolving his legal case, and an altercation between Peterson’s agent and a Vikings executive (which may have been overblown).
Lost in the what-will-Adrian-do drama is the one factor that routinely is the biggest factor in matters of this nature: Money.
The Vikings owe Peterson $12.75 million in 2015, with his 30th birthday looming. What other team would pay him that much, especially after giving up whatever the Vikings will want in picks or players? The more he’s worth financially, the more he’s worth in trade.
And so in the same way Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch may be leveraging uncertainty to shake plenty of money from owner Paul Allen, the guy whose exploits are verbally chronicled by a different Paul Allen could parlay these odd circumstances into an assurance that he’ll get every penny he’s scheduled to earn, this year and maybe next year, when he’s due to make $14.75 million.
It’s easy for Peterson to muse about getting a fresh start. It’s harder to seize on that fresh start if the fresh start entails a lot less cash.
What about Peterson’s perception that the Vikings, through recently-promoted COO Kevin Warren, worked with the league to keep him from playing in November or December? It’s easy to understand Peterson’s frustration; in lieu of fighting the charges pending against him in court, he accepted a plea deal in the hopes that it would get him back on the field last season. It’s entirely possible that someone in the league office decided in September that Peterson wouldn’t suit up again in 2014. If that’s the case, the Vikings weren’t participating in the making of decisions about Peterson; they were simply (and wisely) going along with the wishes of the league.
Peterson eventually may see it that way. Making it easier for him to do so could be the raw dollars-and-cents differences between what the Vikings would pay him to return, and what another team would pay him to leave.