An unfortunate season-ending injury to Dalvin Cook in Minneapolis, and Adrian Peterson’s fleeting role in New Orleans, has a fair number of Vikings fans broaching the idea this week of a trade that would send Peterson back up north, in the form of a reunion with his old team.
Here’s why it’s hard to see that happening.
Remember back to the spring, when the Vikings announced they wouldn’t bring Peterson back on his $18 million option for 2017 and quickly turned their attention to veterans like Latavius Murray and Eddie Lacy in free agency? Peterson told our Mark Craig before the season that the Vikings briefly floated the idea of him coming back on a smaller salary, but never broached the topic again.
It was obvious, as Peterson said then, that both sides needed to go in a different direction, and the Vikings made no substantive attempt to bring Peterson back before he signed with New Orleans in late April. Why, then, would a team that’s already missing a fourth-round pick in 2018 part with another draft choice to take on a player it decided it could do without six months ago?
Yes, the circumstances have changed with Cook being injured, but the Vikings didn’t have Cook when they made the decision to sign Murray and effectively close the door on Peterson’s time in Minnesota. He no longer fit what they wanted to do on offense, and they no longer wanted to fit their offense to what worked best for him.
Peterson is 32 years old, having carried just 27 times for 81 yards this season. He’s got a fully-guaranteed $1 million base salary, which means if you trade for him, you’re keeping him for the year or preparing to add dead money to your books. The Vikings — who loathe dead money, but are already carrying $11.45 million of it for the 2017 league year — aren’t likely to want more of it now, which would mean a Peterson trade comes with the expectation he’s on the roster for the remaining 12 games. He’s played a smaller role in New Orleans, yes, but already groused about his workload in Week 2 after playing just nine snaps in a Saints loss. If the Vikings brought the franchise’s all-time rushing leader back to Minnesota, right after Cook tore his ACL, wouldn’t there be a tacit implication to Peterson they need him to return and save their season?
We get it: In times of uncertainty, it’s natural to reach for what’s familiar. The Vikings have a need at running back, and Peterson could be expendable to the Saints. But bringing him back now would be tantamount to saying that all the factors that led both sides to part ways six months ago are no longer there. That’s not even remotely the case, and it’s doubtful the Vikings are entertaining the idea seriously. The prospect of a Peterson return probably isn’t one fans should spend much time envisioning, either.
We discussed Peterson in detail on the latest Access Vikings podcast, which can also be found on iTunes and Google Play. Check us out and leave a review.