Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman remained adamant Monday that the franchise intends to welcome Adrian Peterson back to the team in 2015, days after a federal judge ordered the NFL to vacate its suspension of the veteran running back. A rumored rift between Peterson’s representatives and Minnesota’s front office have raised questions this offseason about whether the 29-year-old will ever again play for the Vikings.
“We are able to have communication now with Adrian. We’ll keep all those communications internal. I think it’s been very clearly stated we want Adrian Peterson back. He’s a unique talent, and he’s under contract with us,” Spielman said, according to ESPN.
The NFL suspended Peterson without pay in November, arguing that his arrest for domestic abuse of his 4-year-old son constituted a violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy. The initial punishment called for Peterson to remain suspended without pay through the end of the 2014 NFL season and at least April 15 of this year.
U.S. District Court Judge David Doty vacated the suspension last Thursday, a ruling that returned Peterson to the commissioner’s exempt list and freed the Vikings to communicate with him for the time being. The NFL plans to appeal Judge Doty’s decision, according to ESPN. The league has yet to fully reinstate Peterson.
Peterson is under contract with the Vikings through the 2017 NFL season, according to Spotrac. The Vikings have repeatedly said they would welcome Peterson back to the team if his suspension ended. But Peterson has expressed concern about the level of support he received from Minnesota officials when the NFL first moved him to the exempt list last September. “I’m still uneasy about a lot of things that took place within the organization,” he told ESPN in February.
Spielman declined to comment this week on rumors of a lingering conflict between Peterson’s representatives and Vikings management. A purported confrontation between Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra and Rob Brzezinski, Vikings vice president of football operations, grew so heated that the two men had to be separated, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
“[Peterson] will never play another game for the Vikings. It’s over,” a source close to Peterson told CBS Sports.
Peterson’s return to the commissioner’s exempt list allows the Vikings to consider a variety of transactions. They can choose to trade Peterson, release him or restructure his contract after March 10, when the 2015 league year officially begins.