The Minnesota Vikings will not cut star running back Adrian Peterson after he was indicted Friday on a charge of reckless or negligent child injury, a report said Monday. But the franchise may still choose to trade Peterson if any other damaging details regarding his legal situation emerge, an NFL source familiar with the case told the New York Post.
Principal owner Zygi Wilf reportedly held a conference call with general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer to discuss the team’s next move. The Vikings opted to deactivate Peterson with pay for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots after Peterson was booked in Houston over the weekend for allegedly injuring his 4-year-old son while beating him with a switch. He did not attend the game at TCF Bank Stadium, and it remains unclear if he returned to Minnesota at all after his indictment. If convicted, Peterson could face as many as two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Besides a trade or a release, the Vikings can continue to deactivate him, though he would still receive his full salary. Otherwise, the team could indefinitely suspend Peterson without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, as the Miami Dolphins opted to do with offensive lineman Richie Incognito in 2013 in the midst of the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. However, labor agreements stipulate that Peterson could only be suspended for four games.
At 29, Peterson is entering the latter stages of his career as an NFL running back. Age, coupled with Peterson’s legal troubles, probably would make it difficult to trade the veteran. An unnamed AFC general manager told Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman in May – months before Peterson was charged – that he believed the 2014 season “will be Peterson’s last with the Vikings.” He is scheduled to make $12 million this season, but the Vikings would face just $2.4 million in cap penalties if they cut him this season and no penalty if they cut him in 2015.