Adrian Peterson masterfully straddled both sides of the will-he-or-won’t-he fence this morning during his last Winter Park news conference with Twin Cities reporters this season and possibly ever.
“Outside of the business part of it, I would love to finish my career here with the Minnesota Vikings,” Peterson said. “So that’s where my mind is. Not talking contract. We have a little time before that all airs out.”
But there is no “outside the business part of it.” The business part says he’s due $6 million the first week of the new league year in March and $18 million for the 2017 season. Even Peterson, one of the more self-confident players the league has ever seen, was willing to acknowledge publicly that the Vikings are unlikely to pay that kind of money with Peterson nearing 32 and coming off a season in which he missed 13 games because of a torn meniscus and other injuries once he returned early from that surgery.
“I guess with the [salary] number being so high, you can speculate and say that’s the case,” Peterson said. “But in due time, I think we’ll cross that bridge.”
The only question that mattered today was: “Adrian, will you be willing to take a pay cut to return to Minnesota?”
“I’m not ready to get into the contract talk and all that,” he said. “I don’t want to go down that road when it comes to considering less money, this, that and the other. I’ll just save that for another time.”
Peterson said he’ll think about free agency once it happens, if it does.
“I’ve been taking in a lot here the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Just the fans here, man. I’ve been here for 10 years. We have a great team. We have some great things going on here in Minnesota. I would love to continue to be a part of that. So that’s how I’m thinking. I haven’t said, ‘You know what, it’s free agency and I get to test this and I’m just going to write myself off here in Minnesota.’
“So I’m going into this thinking about my guys and wanting to be back with my guys and realizing that at the end of the day it is a business. So I always let the chips fall where they may, but I would love to finish my career here and try to help bring a Super Bowl here to Minnesota.”
Peterson was asked if he’s starting to understand the nature of the business and how other players, such as linebacker Chad Greenway, have taken pay cuts. He said yes, but then mentioned star players who have gotten more money.
“There is the reality that there comes a point in time where, yeah, the best thing to do is take a pay cut,” Peterson said. “It might be in the best interest of the team as well.
“And there are situations where there are guys that are, I would say, worth putting the money into as well. Like, for instance, you got a guy like Tom Brady or a guy like Antonio Brown. You put more money into those guys than you do — I’m not going to name any other receivers or any other quarterbacks — than you do other guys. So it is what it is. That’s just how things go.”
Peterson said the word “business” eight times in a little more than 11 minutes. He said it again when asked if he’s been thinking about the possibility that he has played his last down with the Vikings.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I haven’t thought about, well, what if we’re not able to work things out?” he said. “That crossed my mind. I guess when those thoughts just cross your mind, you sit back and you think about all the times you had here and your teammates and things like that. It hits you. Not that I’m locked in on, ‘Hey, I won’t be here next year.’ But when you have those thoughts cross your mind, it’s only human nature that you think about the times that you’ve had here for over 10 years.”
Tore 90 percent of his meniscus
In other news, Peterson was asked if he had the option of doing minor surgery to repair his meniscus after tearing it in Week 2. Rather than have the torn portion trimmed, which would have gotten him back on the field faster, Peterson had the meniscus repaired. He said his surgeon recommended the surgery he had because Peterson tore 90 percent of the meniscus.
“I tore 90 percent of the lateral meniscus,” he said. “If it was 10 percent, I would have trimmed it off and been back in a couple of weeks. But 90 percent of your meniscus being gone? Especially with how I work out and how I play the game, it could have been six months to a year before I was bone on bone. And with me knowing that I have a lot left in the tank, it would have been crazy to cut off 90 percent of my meniscus. That’s why I had the option of getting it repaired and taking the long route.”
Peterson said he wants to play seven more years and feels he can play five more at a high level.
Peterson said he came back from the meniscus surgery a month and a half before the low end the four- to six-month recovery period his surgeon set for him. He revealed that he was battling an abductor injury heading into the Colts game, but doesn’t think he rushed back too soon. Peterson played only 12 snaps in the 34-6 loss to the Colts and wasn’t healthy enough to play the last two weeks.
“I really pushed it the week leading into the Colts game,” he said. “When it comes to the meniscus, it felt good. It was other things, the combination of muscles that I felt. That’s why I did a lot of things beforehand to make sure my quad, my hamstrings, groin, all those muscles would be able to sustain what I was trying to accomplish.
“And it was that Friday before the Colts game that I felt the abductor and got some treatment. it felt good. a lot better on Saturday. So I don’t think I rushed it back in terms from risking the meniscus. it was just unfortunate that some little other things occurred that slowed me down.”