Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has a $6MM roster bonus due March 11, two days after the market opens, but general manager Rick Spielman told reporters Thursday that the rusher’s future “will get addressed here before free agency starts” (via Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune). Spielman hasn’t yet spoken to Peterson or his representative, but it’s fair to suggest that the Vikings likely won’t exercise the seven-time Pro Bowler’s option. Even if they don’t, though, Spielman indicated he’s amenable to bringing back the soon-to-be 32-year-old Peterson at a lesser cost in 2017. “If we don’t exercise that option, we always will keep the door open on all of our players,” Spielman said.
Regardless of whether Peterson returns next season as Minnesota’s No. 1 back, it has “got to run the football better,” head coach Mike Zimmer told Lindsey Young of the team’s website. The Vikings finished dead last in rushing (1,205) and yards per carry (3.2) last season, and barely having Peterson available didn’t help. While Peterson posted a microscopic 1.9 YPC, he did it over just 37 carries, having missed most of the year because of a torn meniscus.
More from Spielman:
- Sam Bradford will start under center next season for the Vikings, but the quarterback position is “in flux” beyond that, according to Spielman. The Vikings have another starting-caliber signal-caller, Teddy Bridgewater, though he missed the 2016 campaign and might not play next season on account of the devastating knee injury he suffered last August. Spielman responded to that by trading the club’s first-round pick in this year’s draft (and a fourth in 2018) to the Eagles for Bradford, and the executive maintains that he “would do that over in a millisecond to get Sam Bradford on our football team with the circumstances we were dealing with.” Bradford is “just right now in the prime of his career,” Spielman opined, and is due to hit free agency next winter. Although the Vikings only went 7-8 with Bradford (8-8 overall), the 29-year-old fared respectably atop an ultra-conversative passing offense, having set the single-season completion percentage record (71.6) and posted 20 touchdowns against five interceptions.
- Like Bradford, Bridgewater could also become a free agent next offseason if the Vikings don’t control him via his fifth-year option, which they’ll have to exercise or decline by May. In updating Bridgewater’s recovery, Spielman said: “He’s in the process of working through his motion. I know he’s doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional. When he’s going to be ready for football, dropping back and things like that — I think that’s still to be determined.”
- Elsewhere on offense, the Vikings could lose longtime No. 1 left tackle Matt Kalil to free agency. Spielman, though, seemed to imply interest in re-signing the 27-year-old. “We have a plan in place on everything,” he stated. “But I also know I have a pretty good history of trying to keep our own guys as well.” Kalil missed all but two games last year because of a hip injury, and he hasn’t lived up to expectations since going fourth overall in the 2012 draft. However, he racked up 16 starts in each of his four seasons prior to 2016 and now stands as one of the most accomplished pending free agent tackles in a weak class.
- Defensively, Spielman noted that tackle Sharrif Floyd, a potential cap casualty, is “under contract.” Like Peterson and Kalil, Floyd barely took the field last season (one appearance). But “he’s a pretty good player” when healthy, offered Spielman, who added that the team’s defense missed Floyd last season. Floyd sounds safe based on those comments, then, but Spielman could cut him by March 9 and get out of the 25-year-old’s entire $6.75MM-plus cap hit for 2017. As with Floyd, linebacker Chad Greenway‘s fate for next season will become known by the first day of the league year. Greenway, 34, will decide by then whether to retire. The pending free agent revealed last month that he’d only continue his career as a Viking, with whom he has spent all 10 of his seasons.