Written By Sam Ekstrom (ColdOmaha.com)
Photo Credit: Kyle Hansen
Per a release from the Minnesota Vikings, RB Adrian Peterson’s 2017 option that would have paid him $18 million will not be exercised, opening the door for him to become an unrestricted free agent on March 9.
Said Vikings general manager Rick Spielman: “Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization. We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward.”
While this is one step toward the end of Peterson’s Minnesota tenure, it is not the final nail in the coffin. The Vikings, as Spielman indicated, are still negotiating with Peterson, and the soon-to-be 32-year-old running back is open to a return to the team that drafted him in 2007.
“It’s been a great 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings,” Peterson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “They know what I bring to the organization as a player, with my work ethic and dedication. I spoke with Rick Spielman this past weekend. The door is still open to find some common ground. I understand addressing the offensive line is one of their main priorities this offseason. In the meantime, I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on. My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota.”
In all likelihood, Peterson will have to accept a deal worth over $10 million less than the $18 million he was due. Most estimates put his market value in the vicinity of $5-6 million, but a bidding war on the open market could up the ante. Peterson was vocal last season, saying he believed he was worth the $18 million salary based on his track record. He won the rushing title in 2012 after recovering from a torn ACL, then won another rushing crown in 2015 after playing just one game in 2014 due to off-the-field issues.
His history of great bounce backs may certainly intrigue another team enough to pay him among the league’s elite, but the Vikings appear unlikely to reunite with Peterson unless he returns on the team’s terms.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the Vikings would qualify for a compensatory draft pick in 2018 if Peterson does not return to Minnesota.