If, as it appears, running back Adrian Peterson wants a fresh start and if, as is now obvious, the Vikings won’t release Peterson from the final three years of his contract, the options for Peterson are simple: (1) play for the Vikings; (2) play for no one; (3) hope for a trade.
Within a week, we’ll likely know a lot more. Over the weekend, all 32 teams will arrive in Arizona for the annual league meetings. The power brokers for every franchise will be present, with plenty of opportunities to have face-to-face conversations about any and all possible trades.
The Cardinals continue to be the most likely destination for Peterson. Despite Peter King’s report that the Cardinals won’t absorb Peterson’s current contract, the presence of comments supporting the move from Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald — on the team’s official website — make it clear that the Cardinals remain in play, if they can work out compensation packages with the player and the team that holds his rights.
So what happens if the Vikings ultimately don’t like the offer they get from the Cardinals or anyone else? It’s still possible that team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf will tell Adrian that he can play for the Vikings or not play at all, and return the final $2.4 million installment on the $12 million signing bonus he received in 2011.
At a certain point, giving Peterson the “play in Minnesota or don’t play” option may be the best way to go. Unless the Vikings are getting the kind of compensation that would equate to what they would have expected to get from Peterson in 2015 and beyond, why should they give him a fresh start over something they didn’t do?
Yes, both Peterson and the team suffered the consequences of Peterson’s inability to play last year. But the consequences didn’t come from anything the Vikings did. Why should they give Peterson away to another team just because he prefers to play somewhere else in the aftermath of the mess that ultimately traces to his behavior?
I’ve always been a fan of Adrian Peterson. At some point, though, Adrian needs to realize that he did something he shouldn’t have done, and that the Vikings did nothing that they shouldn’t have done. While he may perceive that the Vikings were working with the NFL to keep him off the field in 2014 after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges, the best explanation is that the team was simply going along with a mandate from Manhattan. For a team that nearly crashed the postseason party without him, surely the Vikings would have loved to get him back for the last six or seven games of the season.
They claim they’d love to get him back for 2015. They can prove that to Adrian and to everyone else by taking a hard line with Peterson and refusing to trade him. Unless the trade offers match what he means from a football standpoint, they should.