By Mark Craig
On a looong and busy day of NFL/Purple news, one of the best bits of information to come out for fans was a conversation that coach Leslie Frazier had with All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson earlier in the day.
Peterson is in the last year of a contract, which is never a comfortable feeling for an elite, once-in-a-generation NFL player, especially ones with as short a shelf life as a running back. I talked to Pro Football Hall of Famer and all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith a year ago, and Emmitt said he would advise Peterson to hold out rather than begin the season without a long-term deal.
Asked if Peterson gave him any assurances that he'll report to Mankato on time Sunday with or without a long-term deal, Frazier said, "Oh yeah, we had a good conversation [Monday]. And that's not an issue, and he's looking forward to camp like all of our guys are. Everybody is going to try to be there on time."
Chances are the Vikings have Peterson targeted at or near the top of their list of priorities. Peterson's salary cap number is $12.775 million, and the team is reportedly $5.1 million over the $120.4 million salary cap.
Every team's top 51 players must be cap compliant by 3:01 p.m. CT on Aug. 4. Rick Spielman, VP of player personnel, wouldn't reveal specifics of the team's plan to address its salary cap issues. But you can bet Peterson and franchise player Chad Greenway ($10 million) are at the top.
Restructuring or releasing WR Bernard Berrian ($6.3 million) and safety Madieu Williams ($5.7 million) also are options.
"We've identified all our key guys and what point we'll be approaching those guys, and we'll just work from there," Spielman said.
Obviously, there will be lots of stuff going on this week. Right now, the Vikings and all NFL teams are calling and negotiating with undrafted rookies. They can sign those players Tuesday morning.