If the Vikings decide to trade running back Adrian Peterson, the best time to pull off the swap would arrive when the highest pick Minnesota would be receiving is on the clock. Getting that spot in exchange for Peterson before the draft would operate as a “Hey, everybody, here’s where we may take a running back with that pick!” message to anyone inclined to jump the line.
But that, like so many things, is easier said than done. To pull off a trade, Peterson’s new team will have to address Peterson’s contract. Which means that negotiations will have to be finalized before the two teams call the trade in to the league office. Because once the calls are made and the pick is submitted by the Vikings, it will be too late to go back.
That doesn’t make a trade impossible, but it will require plenty of trust and discretion to keep the Vikings from getting screwed by someone letting the cat out of the bag. Given everything that has happened between the Vikings and Peterson’s camp in recent weeks (actual, alleged, and/or otherwise), the Vikings may fear that someone will blab.
If the Vikings were the Patriots, the Vikings would tell Peterson’s people that, if word leaks prematurely, the trade simply isn’t happening. When the Patriots make a claim like that, people tend to comply — because the Patriots tend to mean what they say. If the Vikings are willing to say it and mean it (and do it if need be), that may be the best way to keep it all quiet until the highest pick the Vikings would be getting is on the clock.