Running back Adrian Peterson’s agent told reporters he believes it’s not in his client’s best interests to remain with the Minnesota Vikings.
Ben Dogra, the same representative who reportedly had to be restrained from a member of the Vikings front office at the NFL scouting combine last month and was quoted saying Peterson would never play in Minnesota again, told reporters in attendance at the league owner’s meetings Monday that “it’s not in Adrian’s best interest to play in Minnesota” next season.
Peterson and the Vikings have been at odds since the former MVP faced child abuse charges last season, and Peterson’s reported perception that the team did not stand by him. Peterson missed all but one game last season after he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, and a federal judge ruled last month that he should be reinstated immediately.
Vikings co-owner and president Mark Wilf responded to Dogra’s comments shortly after.
"The bottom line is Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings,” Wilf said to reporters. “He's represented us on and off the field. We're getting ready for the 2015 season and we fully expect him to join his teammates and be a part of what we feel is going to be a great season ahead."
Should Wilf and the Vikings change their minds, releasing or trading Peterson could be an option. Peterson is scheduled to make $15.4 million next season, but only $2.4 million is guaranteed, making it less expensive from a monetary standpoint to release him.
However, facilitating a trade with another team in need of a running back is likely a better move for Minnesota.
Widely considered the best rusher in the NFL, Peterson’s value on the trade market could fetch several draft picks, and many teams have been active more than ever in trades this offseason.
Per league rules, neither Droga nor Peterson can publicly link him to a new team, but last month Peterson’s father, Nelson, said he heard the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts were interested.
Nelson said the potential to play with the Colts Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck was intriguing to his son, yet that was before the start of free agency and Indianapolis’ signing of veteran running back Frank Gore.
The Cardinals and Cowboys still remain intriguing options, though no report has surfaced since Nelson Peterson’s comments. Arizona has sought a consistent rushing threat to take some pressure off All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald throughout his career, and last season it finished No. 31 in the league in rushing.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones was in a bit of hot water after he took a call from Adrian Peterson during the offseason last year, with Peterson reportedly saying he wanted to play for the Cowboys one day.
The Cowboys just let last year’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray sign with the NFC East rival Eagles, after seemingly refusing to meet his contract demands. However, Dallas doesn’t currently have the salary cap space to sign Peterson unless he agrees to take a significant pay cut in the heart of his prime. Dallas has $1.8 million in cap space, according to numbers compiled by Spotrac.com.
A number of NFL teams do have the requisite cap space to sign Peterson to a lucrative long-term deal. According to Spotrac the Cleveland Browns currently have the most at $35.2 million, followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars ($32.1 million), Tennessee Titans ($29.4 million), Oakland Raiders ($27.1 million), Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($26.4 million), and even Minnesota’s rival the Green Bay Packers ($21.8 million).
Of that short list, only the Packers represent a team with a serious shot of advancing in the postseason to put Peterson in position to win a Super Bowl, a fact that likely hasn’t escaped the Vikings. By making a move to Green Bay, Peterson would be playing in a division he is extremely familiar with, and would be part of an offense that has thrived in recent years under quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Raiders could be an option due to their hefty cap space and draft picks to convince Peterson they are close to contention. Oakland has made several moves to bolster their squad in the offseason.
Peterson, 30, has spent his entire NFL career with the Vikings and carried the team to the postseason with 2,097 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, locking up the league MVP in the process.