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.”
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.”
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