Adrian Peterson‘s offseason in the shadows could come to an end this week, with the All-Pro running back eligible for reinstatement Wednesday.
While the best thing for Peterson is probably a new uniform, Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune envisions him back in Minnesota as the Vikings believe he has one more productive season in him.
After what amounted to a year off, Peterson is an interesting trade candidate despite being 30 and the running back position’s cratering value. He’s third among all active runners in career carries with 2,054 — behind longer-tenured veterans Steven Jackson and Frank Gore — but produced the best rushing season of the 21st century in 2012 the last time he uncertainty engulfed his offseason. Peterson’s 6.0 yards per carry during his MVP campaign represent one of only four such instances since the AFL-NFL merger a running back who exceeded 200 carries in a season gained more than six yards per tote, joining Jamaal Charles in 2010, O.J. Simpson in 1973 and Barry Sanders in 1997. Only one full season worth of carries separated from that performance, Peterson will be a commodity as the draft approaches, putting the onus on the Vikings.
Vensel believes Peterson is worth more than just a first-round pick but doesn’t think the Vikings can pry one from a team, with Peterson’s salary ($15.4MM cap hit in 2015) dwarfing other RBs’ costs. But CBS Sports’ Joel Corry said the window to extract peak value is approaching soon. The Cardinals and Cowboys have been the most rumored potential suitors.
“It would probably happen while on the clock because that’s when you might get a team that’s willing to give up more than they would previously,” Corry told Vensel. “You’d think [the Vikings] would want a 2015 draft pick, so if you’re going to see something get done, talks will heat up close to the draft or he will be traded during the draft.
“It’s kind of a buyer-beware proposition for Peterson going forward. But if there’s a running back that is going to defy odds, he’s it.”
But Peterson’s contract contains no guaranteed money after 2015, and Vensel points out a redo of his deal to ensure a guaranteed sum is included beyond this season would be the best way to reverse the future Hall of Famer’s current feelings toward his employer.
Vensel also points out the Vikings, whose brass have stood firm on their no-trade stance regarding their most famous player, have wavered from their trade comments in recent offseasons. The Percy Harvin in 2013 trade came after Vikings GM Rick Spielman initially said he wouldn’t do so.