Peterson, Vikings both look for long-term deal

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 29, 2011 - 5:54 AM

The star running back has been quiet except to vent frustration over the Rice trade.


Adrian Peterson

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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While Frank Gore holds out and Chris Johnson threatens to do the same, Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson is making news by, well, not making news.

At least not when it comes to what could have become a combustible contract situation.

Peterson told the team he will report on time, with or without the comfort of the long-term deal he wants. Like Gore in San Francisco and Johnson in Tennessee, Peterson is entering the final year of his contract while playing the position that typically produces the shortest NFL careers.

Gore, coming off a season-ending fractured hip, is scheduled to make $4.9 million this year, while Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher in 2009, will make $800,000. Another disgruntled running back, Chicago's Matt Forte, also isn't happy about the final year of his contract, or the fact his $550,000 salary is less than half of what his backup, former Viking Chester Taylor ($1.25 million), will make.

Yes, Peterson is due to make a lot more. Yes, it's $10.72 million. But Peterson also knows that he's positioned himself for a guarantee of about $25 million, or more, based on terms of the deal Carolina's DeAngelo Williams signed on Wednesday.

Williams, a 28-year-old who's missed 13 games because of injuries the past two seasons, signed a five-year, $43 million deal with $21 million guaranteed. Peterson, 26, who has missed only three games in four years, has a league-high 5,782 yards rushing since joining the Vikings in 2007.

"I think Adrian is trying to do the right thing as a leader on that team, and I admire that," said former Vikings quarterback and current CBS analyst Rich Gannon. "Other players get bad advice sometimes about holding out, and it usually doesn't work when you put a gun to the head of the owner or the general manager. Adrian is one of the best players in the game, he's a workhorse and he went from all those fumbles two years ago to just one last year. He'll get paid in time."

Six months ago, Emmitt Smith, Hall of Famer and the NFL's career rushing leader, told the Star Tribune that his advice to Peterson would be to hold out and force the Vikings to give him a long-term deal before the start of training camp. It's possible the Vikings might do just that because it's also to their benefit to reduce Peterson's monstrous $12.775 million salary cap number through a long-term commitment.

"Adrian Peterson is a special kind of guy, and if the Minnesota Vikings believe in Adrian Peterson the way I think they do, then they will do something [before camp]," Smith said. "[Otherwise], you're alienating a player because your actions speak louder than your words."

Smith knows all about holdouts and the leverage an elite player can create. In 1993, he held out as the Cowboys started 0-2. Smith signed and then led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory while becoming the only player in NFL history to win the rushing title, league MVP and Super Bowl MVP in the same season.

Assuming Peterson does report on time, he'll face questions from the local media for the first time since last season. He'll no doubt be asked about comparing the league's labor situation to "modern-day slavery" during a March interview with Yahoo! Sports. He'll also be asked to elaborate on his feelings about losing teammate and close friend Sidney Rice, who signed with Seattle on Wednesday. On Thursday, Peterson used his Twitter account to vent his frustration toward the Vikings.

"I CAN'T Believe the Vikings let my boy Sidney Rice get away!" Peterson tweeted. "I didn't think we wouldn't be playing together this year! WOW!"

"The 'modern-day slavery' comment, that was maybe a little out of character and just the wrong thing to say at the absolute wrong time," Gannon said. "Guys today really need to think hard before they push the send button.

"As for what he said about Rice, that's understandable. You go to battle with guys and you don't like to see them move on, so you get emotional about it. I've done that before. The bottom line is Adrian will show up, and I don't think anyone will question his attitude about football."


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