Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement by the NFL, assumed to be a formality, has become a reality. He was eligible to be reinstated Wednesday; the team announced it received word Thursday that he has, in fact, been reinstated.
There has been a lot of chatter about whether Peterson wants to play for the Vikings, but let’s get to the heart of the matter: unless Peterson wants to hold out, which I can’t imagine he does after missing almost a full season last year, the Vikings hold the power. He’s under contract. The Vikings can keep him or trade him. It’s as simple as that.
So the bigger question is: should the Vikings want him back? On that end, there are a few things to consider:
*He is 30 years old and has a cap hit of $15.4 million in 2015. That’s over $6 million more than the cap number of any other running back in the NFL. That doesn’t mean much as long as the Vikings can handle his number and salary, but it is still prudent to ask if a team in the midst of a rebuild should be devoting that much time, energy and money to a veteran running back.
*Fans: There is a segment of the fan base that was done with Peterson the minute it became known how he disciplined his 4-year-old son. Another segment of the fan base has lost interest or faith in Peterson as this process has continued. That’s not to say minds can’t change, but it is reasonable to think a good chunk of Vikings fans simply don’t ever want to see him in purple again. Maybe that won’t matter to decision-makers, and maybe it shouldn’t. But it’s there.
*Team identity: In the absence of Peterson last year, rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater was asked to take on a “face of the franchise” role. He embraced it and handled it beautifully. After playing a year without Peterson, should Teddy and co. be asked to drift back into the shadows, even just a little, if Peterson resumes a larger role?
These are questions for the Vikings to answer, not me. But make no mistake: Peterson’s return was never going to be as simple as being reinstated. Really, this is just the beginning.