Despite any lingering concerns Vikings running back Adrian Peterson may have about staying in Minnesota, the primary factor regarding his future always was going to be — and eventually will be — money.
And as more and more running backs make more and more money, the likelihood that someone else will pay Peterson as much or more than the $12.75 million he’s due to earn from the Vikings increases.
Peterson’s father, Nelson, previously has said he’s heard rumors of the Cowboys, Colts, and Cardinals being interested. With the Cowboys convinced that they can move the chains via an average tailback running behind their above-average line, it would be a surprise if he becomes their top target. The Colts have greater needs on the defensive side of the ball, and they eventually will be giving a mega-deal to quarterback Andrew Luck.
That leaves the Cardinals as the most likely candidate — especially with the $13 million in cap space they cleared by redoing receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s contract.
And it would be easy for the Cardinals to give Peterson $16 million or more in 2015. They simply have to tear up the rest of his contract and replace it with the same kind of deal LeSean McCoy got from the Bills. Over five years, McCoy will average $8 million. But he’ll get $16 million this year because of the $13.125 million the Bills gave him to sign.
The Cardinals could do the same thing with Peterson, giving him (for example) $20 million in 2015 as part of a deal that averages $13 million per season. The hurdle then becomes how much the Cardinals would have to give the Vikings in trade to get things done.
But if Peterson truly wants out and if coach Mike Zimmer is intent (as he has twice told PFT Live) on accommodating Peterson if he truly wants out, working out a fair trade becomes the lowest hurdle to clear. If the Vikings aren’t going to force Peterson to stay when he doesn’t want to, it’s simply a matter of doing the best deal possible with the team that wants to employ, and to pay, Peterson..