Adrian Peterson

Vikes Notes: AP, QBs, Kalil, Floyd, Greenway

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.

North Notes: Peterson, T. Taylor, Steelers

We learned yesterday that at least a few GMs are concerned about how much Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has left and whether or not he’d be willing to accept a contract commensurate with a running back on the downside of his career. The Giants are one team that Peterson has indicated he would like to play for if he does not remain in Minnesota, but as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, Big Blue has expressed no interest in acquiring the former league MVP (although the Giants have not indicated that they are uninterested either, Peterson just does not appear to fit from a schematic standpoint). Of course, the more teams that drop out of the Peterson race, or decline to enter the race at all, the more likely it is that he will stay with the Vikings on a lesser salary.

Now for more notes from the league’s north divisions:

  • Speaking of Peterson, Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune lays out a list of teams that the long-time Vikings star is most likely to play for next season, and the Buccaneers are at the top of the list.
  • The Lions signed tight end Cole Wick as a UDFA last offseason, and he managed to stick on the team’s 53-man roster, catching two passes in sporadic playing time over six regular-season games before spending the final two months on IR. But as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes, Wick could find himself with a more significant role in 2017, as he and Eric Ebron are the only tight ends under contract who played a down for Detroit last year.
  • The Bears are expected to hire Derius Swinton as the club’s assistant special teams coach, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Swinton previously served in that capacity with Chicago in 2015 but became the 49ers’ special teams coordinator last season.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the chances of the Browns‘ acquiring Tyrod Taylor increased when the club hired his former Bills quarterbacks coach, David Lee, two weeks ago. However, Cabot believes Cleveland would still prefer to swing a trade for Patriots backup signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo. If they cannot land Garoppolo, the Browns will look to Taylor, Mike Glennon, etc., but even if they acquire one of those players, Cabot believes the team should still draft UNC’s Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 overall selection.
  • The Steelers have a lot of question marks at the wide receiver position beyond Antonio Brown, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Indeed, Martavis Bryant needs to be reinstated by the league following his season-long suspension, Markus Wheaton will probably be let go in free agency, and Sammie Coates was dogged by injuries to his finger and groin and could be facing knee surgery. As such, Dulac believes the team could spend at least one early-round selection on a wideout. John Ross and JuJu Smith-Schuster are two prospects who could be available when the Steelers are on the clock for the first time.

GMs Skeptical Of Adrian Peterson’s Future?

Adrian Peterson might not be able to be especially picky when it comes to selecting a second NFL employer, provided the Vikings send him to free agency for the first time in his career. Surveying several GMs, CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora reports a skepticism exists about multiple facets of Peterson’s career going forward.

The aforementioned GMs expressed “real concerns” about how much Peterson has left and whether or not he’d be willing to accept a contract commensurate with a running back on the downside of his career. The high-level decision-makers wonder if the soon-to-be 32-year-old ball-carrier would take a one-year, $5MM deal with an incentive-laden structure if that’s what a team was offering. He made at least $11MM in base salary from 2013-16.

It only takes one team to do something stupid,” an NFL contract negotiator told La Canfora, “but I can’t see there being much out there for him once the Vikings let him go.”

As far as possible interest in going to the Giants or Cowboys, La Canfora notes Big Blue would be better off using potential Peterson money to upgrade their offensive line and target a younger back to complement Paul Perkins, while the reporter questions how Peterson would co-exist with Ezekiel Elliott in a situation where the three-time rushing champion would be a backup. The Patriots warranted a mention here, given their penchant for cheap veterans, but La Canfora suggests the running back’s recent film sample may not appeal to Bill Belichick. Despite winning the 2015 rushing crown, Peterson’s averaged 2.9 yards per carry in the eight games prior to his meniscus tear in September of 2016.

Noting questions would ensue about Peterson’s willingness to be a five- or 10-touch player as a backup on a contending team, along with those about his durability, La Canfora does not expect Peterson to encounter a seller’s market. Instead, a Frank Gore-esque contract (the Colts’ starter signed for $12MM over three years in 2015) could be the reality with which Peterson is confronted.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Redskins

Running back Adrian Peterson reportedly has interest in joining the Giants if he’s released by the Vikings this offseason, and last night the veteran back sent out a cryptic tweet that will only add fuel to the Big Blue fire. “The Giants been making some interesting moves,” tweeted Peterson, presumably referring to New York’s release of running back Rashad Jennings and wide receiver Victor Cruz. The Giants might be interested in Peterson if he comes at an affordable price, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes, but the 31-year-old doesn’t appear to be a scheme fit. Peterson averages roughly 1.2 fewer yards per carry out of the shotgun, and New York uses the shotgun formation on two-thirds of its offensive snaps, as Evan Silva and Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld tweet.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

Cowboys Are Potential Destination For DeMarcus Ware, Adrian Peterson

The Cowboys’ unexpected 2016 season, which was filled with so much promise, ultimately ended in heartbreak. However, with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott leading the charge for the foreseeable future, there is every reason to think their championship window is wide open, and they may look to supplement their current roster with a couple of big name veterans.

DeMarcus Ware (vertical)

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason, is “leaving the door open” to return to Dallas, where his prolific career began in 2005. Ware, of course, has spent the last three seasons in Denver, capturing a Super Bowl ring in the process. His 2016 season was cut short due to a back injury, and though that injury threatened to end his playing career, he underwent successful back surgery and announced in December that he planned to return for the 2017 season. Recently, he told ESPN’s Hannah Storm (article via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com) that he felt like a “a new man,” and he confirmed his intention to play next year. The surefire Hall-of-Famer has been honored with four first-team All-Pro selections and has racked up 138.5 sacks in his career.

Adrian Peterson (vertical)

Running back Adrian Peterson has been connected to the Cowboys in the past, but that was before the team drafted Elliott, who took the league by storm in his rookie campaign. Peterson is still under Vikings control through 2017, but his cap hit next season will be an unpalatable $18MM, so if the two sides cannot agree on a restructured deal, Peterson could become available.

The 31-year-old has been named to seven Pro Bowls and was the league MVP in 2012, but while his 2016 was cut short due to injury, he did not look like his old self even before the injury, and perhaps he is at the point where he would welcome a role as a complementary back as opposed to the workhorse that he has always been. That still seems like a bit of a stretch at this point, and it’s not as if the Cowboys have enough cap room to overpay a backup running back, but the possibility is apparently there. Indeed, as Schefter notes, Peterson recently named the Texans, Buccaneers, and Giants as teams he would consider joining if he did not finish his career in Minnesota, but here is a belief in league circles that Dallas would definitely be in play as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings GM Rick Spielman Discusses Offseason, Draft, Peterson

This will be a critical offseason for the Vikings and general manager Rick Spielman. After starting the season with five straight victories, the Vikings went 3-8 the rest of the way. This was the team’s third playoff absence since Spielman took over in 2012, with the Vikings haven’t advanced past the wild card round during their two postseason appearances.

Rick SpielmanBesides the motivation to transform the team into a playoff contender, the Vikings will also have to make tough decisions on their handful of impending free agents. Sid Hartman of the Minnesota Star Tribune notes that the team has 14 players who will hit free agency, including cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn and Terence Newman, running back Matt Asiata, linebacker Audie Cole, tight end Rhett Ellison, offensive tackle Matt Kalil, and wideout Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman talked to Hartman about his preparation for the offseason, his evaluation of this year’s draft class, and Adrian Peterson‘s NFL future. The whole article is worth reading, but we collected some of the notable quotes below.

On the front office’s preparation for the offseason:

“We started our process last week, met with all the coaches and the scouts. We kind of went through our personnel, where we’re at, we identified our needs, and we’ll start over the next month here putting together our game plan on where we can attack to fill those needs, whether it be free agency or we have to wait through until the draft. There are going to be some things that can happen.”

On how the front office will evaluate ways to improve the roster:

“The most important process is to be honest with yourself on where your roster is and be honest on the type of personnel. Then once you identify those needs, and we do it where the coaches are involved, the scouts are involved, and then I’ll sit with Coach [Mike] Zimmer, [Executive Vice President] Rob Brzezinski, [assistant GM] George Paton, and we’ll finalize our game plan and get ready to improve the roster.”

On running back Adrian Peterson’s future in the NFL:

“I think Adrian will always defy the odds. He got hurt this year, but I still think he has a lot of football left in him. Those will be some of the tough decisions we have to make, and what you do is when you go through this process you’re trying to weigh in where are you going to put your resources and financially where are you going to spend your money.

“We have a lot of young guys coming up this year. I think Xavier Rhodes is an extremely talented young player that we’re going to have to be mentally prepared to address his contract. Those decisions will be made once we get through the free agency and draft meetings. But I think Adrian Peterson has football left in him.”

On the team’s draft strategy:

“We have eight draft picks going into this draft, my goal was to have 10 or more by the time we get out of this draft. I do think we have to replenish our roster with some youth. Last year we signed a lot of our players back, a lot of free agents back on the roster, and this year I know we’re going to have to get some of the younger players going. This new class coming in, from a draft standpoint, will be a part of it as well.”

On his early evaluations of the draft class:

“We had our first meeting in December, and then our scouts will be coming in in a couple weeks and head down to the Senior Bowl. I saw most of those kids that are going to be in the Senior Bowl, but I think offensively the two strongest positions — and I don’t know all the juniors that are coming out or who’s staying or going and that won’t be decided for a couple weeks — but it looks like an extremely strong running back class. I think the tight end class is going to be extremely strong.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A. Peterson Interested In Texans, Bucs, Giants

With his tenure in Minnesota potentially set to end this offseason, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson already has a few potential employers on his radar. The seven-time Pro Bowler revealed Thursday on ESPN that he’s interested in the Texans, Buccaneers and Giants.

Adrian Peterson (vertical)

Of course, in order for Peterson to join another team, the Vikings are going to have to part with him first. The soon-to-be 32-year-old stated that he’d like to remain a Viking. That would require a construct restructuring, though, as Peterson’s slated for an $11.75MM salary and $18MM cap number in 2017. Those are each unpalatable figures given his age and injury-truncated 2016, which saw him tear his meniscus in Week 2 and rack up a meager 72 yards on 37 carries.

With a $6MM roster bonus due March 11, an answer on Peterson’s future is coming soon, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Considering Peterson isn’t a fan of going through the offseason program and training camp, he could force his release and sign with a club closer to the start of the regular season, Florio observes.

Of the franchises Peterson is targeting, Houston stands out as the one that clearly isn’t a fit. While the Texans play in Peterson’s home state, they already have a starting running back in Lamar Miller, whom they gave $14MM in guarantees on a four-year, $26MM deal in free agency last winter.

The Bucs also doled out big money to a back a year ago in re-signing Doug Martin, but his future with the team is in question as a result of a late-2016 suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. In addition to costing him one game this season and three in 2017, the ban voided Martin’s $7MM in guarantees for next season. Theoretically, then, Tampa Bay could jettison him for Peterson if it wants.

The Giants, meanwhile, have a slew of rushers, though there might not be a bell cow among them. Paul Perkins, who had a decent rookie year, stands out as the most promising back New York has. Veterans Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen could end up on the chopping block this offseason. Even if they don’t, neither is a No. 1-caliber rusher.

Peterson, on the other hand, is one of the premier backs in NFL history. Although his 2016 was nightmarish, he isn’t far removed from winning the league’s rushing title in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Rule Out Adrian Peterson For Saturday

The Vikings face the Packers on Saturday but they will not have Adrian Peterson on the field with them. The running back has been ruled out for the game, the team announced.

Peterson tore his meniscus in the second game of the season and his status for the rest of 2016 was very much in doubt. Miraculously, he had a quicker-than-expected recovery from surgery and managed to return this month. Unfortunately, he suffered a groin injury in his return.

Now, the Vikings have just a 3% chance of making the playoffs and it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Peterson to put himself in jeopardy. His status for Week 17 is currently unknown, but a loss on Saturday could lead to Peterson sitting out, regardless of his health.

Peterson had a dreadful start to the season before his injury and he didn’t look much better in his return on Dec. 18. Now, there’s talk that the Vikings will likely not pay Peterson’s $6MM roster bonus and instead will approach him about a pay cut prior to the bonus coming due.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Eagles, Linehan, Bradford

The Eagles have fallen into a tailspin after an exciting start to the season, and that has led to some speculation as to whether the team will make any major changes this offseason. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Philadelphia will not make any such changes, which means that head coach Doug Pederson will be back for a second year at the helm. Per Rapoport, the front office knew going into 2016 that the club was at least a year away from being a legitimate playoff contender, and while the Eagles’ 3-0 start helped to hide some of the weaknesses on the roster, the team knew that fixing those weaknesses would not be an overnight process.

Now for more notes from the NFC:

  • Despite Dak Prescott‘s recent struggles, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that things would have to get much worse for the Cowboys to consider switching to Tony Romo. But Rapoport adds that Dallas OC Scott Linehan will be a sought-after head coaching candidate this offseason, and his departure could have a major impact on Prescott moving forward (Twitter link).
  • As the Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence investigation drags on, Tim Rohan of TheMMQB wonders why it’s taking so long, and if the league is just prolonging the process to keep up appearances. Rohan lays out in excellent detail the steps that the league’s investigative team takes in a post-Ray Rice world, and how that process could explain the lengthy delay in the NFL’s issuing a final word on the Cowboys‘ star running back.
  • Su’a Cravens may miss the rest of the season with a biceps injury, but that has not stopped speculation surrounding the young defensive playmaker and how he will fit in with the Redskins moving forward. Thus far, Cravens has worked exclusively as an inside linebacker, but given his strength in the passing game, JP Finlay of CSNMidAtlantic.com believes he may ultimately be better-suited as a safety, especially since the Redskins do not have a long-term answer at strong safety.
  • As Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports observes, the Vikings have two high-profile players who are due for big roster bonuses in March: Sam Bradford and Adrian Peterson. Per Pelissero, Minnesota plans to bring back Bradford, but as we have heard for a long time, the Vikings will likely not pay Peterson’s $6MM roster bonus and instead will approach him about a pay cut prior to the bonus coming due.
  • We learned earlier today that the Saints could look to trade Sean Payton in the offseason.

Vikings Officially Activate Adrian Peterson

We’ve been hearing it for days, but now it’s official: Adrian Peterson is back. The Vikings announced (via Twitter) that the star running back has been activated from the injured reserve. To make room on the roster, the team has waived defensive tackle Toby Johnson.

Adrian PetersonPeterson returned to practice this week, making him the Vikings’ designated player to return from IR. Yesterday, the 31-year-old declared that he was ready to play this weekend against the Colts. Sunday will be Peterson’s first game since September, when the running back was sidelined with a torn meniscus. Up to that point in the season, Peterson had only run for 50 yards on 31 carries. Of course, the 10-year veteran is one of the most productive running backs in NFL history. In fact, Peterson led the NFL with 1,485 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns in 2015.

“I’m extremely hungry to get out there and help these guys win. That’s what it’s all about,” Peterson said (via Craig Peters of Vikings.com). “That’s why I do it.

“It’s not for yards or anything like that. It’s for the guys in this locker room, the sweat during training camp and OTAs,” Peterson added. “We’re brothers, we’re family. We spend so much time with each other, even more than with family, so the reason I’ve fought so hard to get back is for the guys like Chad Greenway, B-Rob (Brian Robison), Terence Newman, all of these guys in this locker room, including the coaching staff.”

The Vikings could certainly use some help, as the team has dropped six of their past eight games after opening the season 5-0. While Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon have filled in admirably during Peterson’s absence, the Vikings still rank last in rushing yards this season (954).

Johnson was added to the team’s active roster earlier this week after the team placed defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd on the injured reserve. The 25-year-old has been on the team’s practice squad all season, and he’ll presumably rejoin the organization if he clears waivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.