After an uncertain offseason packed with tension, hard feelings and distrust, the Vikings and Adrian Peterson officially have renewed their vows.
The Vikings announced Tuesday that they and their star running back “mutually agreed” to restructure the final three years of Peterson’s contract. Exact terms were not disclosed, but the new deal reportedly includes $20 million in guaranteed money for Peterson in 2015 and 2016 combined, something his old contract lacked.
The then-disgruntled 30-year-old stated in late May that he was concerned about securing his future with the Vikings. After ending the monthslong standoff in early June by rejoining his teammates for voluntary workouts, the Vikings and Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, began conversations about a new contract. Now Peterson has the security that he craved all along.
“I appreciate the Vikings for working together on this restructured contract, which provides additional security for me but also allows opportunities for me to further prove my value to the team and within the NFL,” Peterson said in a statement released by the team. “It was important for me to continue my career in Minnesota, and I cannot wait to get on the field in front of Vikings fans again.”
Peterson, who was in the fourth season of the six-year, $96 million extension he signed in 2011, remains under contract through the 2017 season, the team said.
He had been slated to make a base salary of $12.75 million this season, tops among NFL running backs. That total would become fully guaranteed if he was on the team’s roster in Week 1, a given considering that they had stuck with him this long.
His salary would have been $14.75 million in 2016 before rising to $16.75 million in the final year of the deal. But Peterson reportedly agreed to a reduction in salary in 2016 and 2017 to secure guaranteed money after this season.
Under the previous contract signed in 2011, the Vikings could release Peterson after the season if they wanted at no cost. The guaranteed money for 2016 in his new deal makes it likely that Peterson will remain on the team through at least next season.
A long way from last fall
Last fall, there was little clarity on whether he would suit up for them ever again.
Peterson was charged with child abuse in Texas last September, days after the 2014 season opener. He sat out the final 15 games as the NFL jostled him between the suspended list and the commissioner’s exempt list. The Vikings remained mum about his future with the team as his legal process played out and potential conflict over his growing salary cap figures loomed.
Shortly after the season ended, Vikings ownership publicly stated that they expected Peterson to play for the team in 2015. And despite indications from Peterson’s camp that he was unhappy here in Minnesota, including some cryptic social media messages in addition to Dogra’s public comments, the Vikings held firm on their commitment to Peterson.
Peterson was reinstated by the NFL in April and the NFL draft passed by without a Peterson trade. A few weeks later, thanks in part to the relationship coach Mike Zimmer had built with the running back, Peterson surprisingly reported to Winter Park — a sign that Peterson felt the relationship still was repairable.
Both sides express happiness
Tuesday’s announcement confirmed that the Vikings and Peterson indeed have patched up their marriage after several rocky months, with both sides coming away happy.
“This agreement is a win for both Adrian and the Vikings and is a positive step toward Adrian finishing his career as a Minnesota Viking,” General Manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “As we have consistently said, Adrian is a valuable part of the Vikings organization and we look forward to his return to the field.”
Peterson is expected to again be the centerpiece of the Vikings offense this season.
Peterson, a six-time Pro-Bowl performer, has rushed for 10,190 yards and 86 touchdowns in 104 games since the Vikings drafted him seventh overall in 2007.