As mentioned earlier, the Adrian Peterson contract carries a base value of $44 million over the next three years, only $750,000 less than he was previously due to make — but with significant guarantees and early triggers for the team in 2016 and 2017.
The contract also gives Peterson a chance to earn more. And to earn less. And to earn back some of what he may lose.
Per a source with knowledge of the contract, the deal includes both an escalator and a de-escalator for 2016. Here’s how it works.
Peterson will get another $1 million in 2016 salary if he rushes for at least 1,750 yards and the team wins a divisional-round playoff game. That amount moves to $2 million in 2016 salary if he rushes for at least 1,900 yards and the Vikings win the Super Bowl.
In contrast, the 2016 roster bonus drops by $1 million if Peterson fails to rush for 1,550 yards or if the club fails to win a playoff game. (In other words, both must happen to preserve the salary.) The drop in the roster bonus moves to $2 million if Peterson fails to rush for at least 1,350 or if the team fails to make it to the playoffs.
To put those targets in perspective, Peterson has rushed for at least 1,350 yards only three times in his eight-year career. He has rushed for at least 1,550 yards only twice. So it’s no lock that he’ll keep the roster bonus for 2016 at $5 million.
If the roster bonus drops in 2016, Peterson can earn the money back. If the $1 million de-escalator is triggered, he’ll get it back as an incentive payment if he rushes for at least 1,550 yards and the Club wins a playoff game in 2016. If the roster bonus deescalates by $2 million, Peterson can earn back $1 million as an incentive payment if he rushes for at least 1,350 yards and the Vikings qualify for the playoffs in 2016. He can earn back $2 million as an incentive payment if he rushes for at least 1,550 yards and the club wins a playoff game.
Of course, this all hinges on the Vikings deciding to keep Peterson around in 2016, by not cutting him before the roster bonus comes due on the third day of the league year, which is the same day when $7 million in 2016 base salary becomes fully guaranteed.
As a practical matter, it’s a $4 million swing that on one hand makes it cheaper to keep Peterson if he and the team have a down year — and that pays him even more if he performs at a high level and the team thrives in the postseason.