Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Sunday that one of the big changes that occurred when Adrian Peterson won his ruling against the NFL last week is that the team is now allowed to talk with the star running back.

“We can communicate with Adrian, but I’m just going to leave all of those communications internal at this point,” said Spielman, who, in the same conversation, said the team wants to bring veteran linebacker Chad Greenway back.

I am pretty certain Spielman has already talked to Peterson, his agent, or both, after U.S. Judge David Doty’s ruling Thursday, one that the NFL said it will appeal.

“When you’re on the commissioner’s exempt list you’re permitted to have dialogue and communication with a player, when they’re on the suspended list you cannot,” he said. “When he went off the suspension list and placed back on the commissioner’s, that gave us the ability to communicate.”

While all kinds of rumors have been flying around about Peterson’s future, no one seems to mention or care that, unless the Vikings move Peterson, he has no choice but to play here next season. And in every single public statement the Vikings have said they want him back next season.

“We’ve stated that numerous times, I know we came out with statements during the combine and I’ve stated numerous times, who wouldn’t want an Adrian Peterson-type back on your roster?” Spielman said.

The Vikings were already well below the salary cap before releasing guard Charlie Johnson last week to save $2.5 million next season, so the cap when it comes to Peterson’s 2015 contract of $12.75 million won’t be a problem.

It is possible that the Vikings can renegotiate a new contract that would be favorable to Peterson with more guaranteed money with but a smaller total contract price. He has no guaranteed money left on the remaining two years of his current contract, having already received the guaranteed $36 million of the seven-year deal he signed before the start of the 2011 season.

In my visits with Vikings owner and President Mark Wilf, there has been not one hint that the Wilf family would tell the Vikings to get rid of Peterson because of his contract next year. The Vikings owners have never turned down a contract request because of money in the 10 years they have owned the team, and if coaches and executives want Peterson back, he will be back.

Won’t lose a step

Spielman also said he doesn’t buy into any talk of Peterson being a diminished running back simply because he’s turning 30 on March 21. And the way the Vikings GM sang the praises of Peterson certainly gave further indication that the running back will return, unless the Vikings receive a trade offer they can’t turn down.

“I don’t put any doubt into Adrian Peterson and when he comes back how he’s going to perform,” Spielman said. “Everybody talks about the 30-year-old back, but he didn’t have any hits on his body last year and he is different. Just very unique from a physical stature standpoint and just he has unique traits that you don’t see very often come through the NFL. I suspect Adrian is going to have a great year next year.”

While Spielman acknowledged that there are historical markers for diminishing skill returns on NFL running backs, that doesn’t matter here.

“You know, there’s been plenty of great backs in this league, and at what point did their skill set start to decline?” Spielman said. “That’s just a process grading those guys through their career, but I just think Adrian is in a whole different class by himself.”

Wants Greenway

Spielman didn’t leave any doubts about wanting Greenway to play his 10th season with the Vikings.

Greenway, who is slated to make $7 million this season, took a pay cut last year and would probably take another in 2015 to stay here.

“We have a lot of things that we’ll be working through between now and before March 10th [when free agents can be signed], but we’d love to have Chad Greenway back and finish [his career] as a Minnesota Viking,” Spielman said.

Asked about the future of quarterback Matt Cassel, who has a $4.75 million contract for 2015, when he is set to back up Teddy Bridgewater after initially signing as a starter, Spielman said: “We’ve talked to Matt Cassel, we’re going through our process right now and we’ll make determinations as we go. But Matt has been outstanding. He’s a great leader for us and has done a great job for us.”


• The Wild has 20 games left in the regular season, and the team is three points clear for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The challenge is that 10 of the final 20 games are against other teams currently in the West playoffs or fighting for a spot. The Wild has two games at West-leading Nashville; a home game against No. 2 Anaheim; one home game and two road games against St. Louis; one game at Chicago; one home game against Winnipeg; one home game against Calgary; and one home game against defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles, the team currently trailing the Wild by three points.

• Kevin Garnett has already had an effect on one of the young Timberwolves players, with rookie Adreian Payne telling teammates that he has gotten some real good tips from Garnett on how he can improve. With Garnett kicked out of the Memphis game on Saturday by Bennett Salvatore, one of the worst officials in the NBA, Payne got a chance to play 25 minutes, and scored four points and grabbed five rebounds.

• Speaking of the trades that Flip Saunders made this season, and they all seem to have worked out pretty well, the Wolves dealt away three veterans and all three are having success with their new teams. Mo Williams is averaging 23.4 points and 7.0 assists on 46.1 percent shooting over five games with Charlotte; Thaddeus Young is averaging 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in five games with Brooklyn; and Corey Brewer is averaging 12 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.2 minutes in 33 games with Houston.

Sean Hjelle, a 6-11 senior center from Mahtomedi, is averaging 19.0 points per game, but after playing summer baseball with one of the top-tier teams in Chicago, he has signed to pitch for Kentucky. … Theo John, a 6-8 forward from Champlin Park High School who is only a sophomore, is already getting attention from a bunch of major college programs, including the Gophers and Wisconsin. Undefeated Champlin Park is ranked No. 1 in the state.