Vikings running back Adrian Peterson embarks Friday on his effort to best position himself to possibly no longer play for the Vikings.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Peterson’s goal when his case heads to federal court in Minnesota will be to secure immediate reinstatement or, at the latest, reinstatement before March 10. Coincidentally (or not), that’s the first day of the new league year, the earliest date on which players can be traded.
Peterson, as PFT previously has reported, will attend the hearing, which starts at 2:00 p.m. CT. Each side will have 30 minutes to present its case to Judge David Doty.
With the assistance of the NFLPA, Peterson contends that his suspension reflects a retroactive application of a new policy, that the arbitrator who upheld his suspension was not impartial, and that the suspension imposes discipline not permitted by the labor deal (e.g., a requirement that Peterson be evaluated by mental health professionals).
Meanwhile, the source says Peterson is fulfilling the requirements imposed by Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the suspension, and that the league is aware of Peterson’s efforts.
That likely would be enough to get Peterson reinstatement by April 15, the date on which the NFL plans to consider whether he should return to work for his current team. Peterson’s desire to secure reinstatement by March 10 fairly can be interpreted as an effort to be available for teams other than the Vikings, with an early reinstatement allowing the Vikings to trade him to a team that may be interested in Peterson before that team makes other plans.
For example, the Cowboys could be tempted to make a play for Peterson. If he’s not reinstated until April 15, however, the Cowboys may decide to sign running back DeMarco Murray to a long-term deal weeks before Peterson is available to be traded.
Last month, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio that he wants Peterson back, but that it has to be a two-way street. This strongly implies that, if Peterson ultimately wants to leave, Zimmer won’t stand in his way.
For now, the NFL necessarily is keeping Peterson from being traded or cut before March 10. As of Friday, the effort to change that officially commences.