Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman repeated coach Mike Zimmer’s earlier comments that the Vikings would like for suspended running back Adrian Peterson to return to the team in 2015, but stopped short of saying that will happen once Peterson is eligible to be reinstated on April 15.
“I don’t know if there’s a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want Adrian Peterson on the football team,” Spielman told a small group of reporters at Winter Park this morning. “If you can name me one. And I don’t want to speak for other teams. I’m being a little sarcastic with that. But I know he’s a pretty good football player.”
Peterson played only the season opener in 2014 after serving part of the season on the commissioner’s exempt list and then being suspended once he pleaded to a misdemeanor charge in relation to the injuries he caused while using a switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. Spielman defended Peterson’s character while acknowledging that he made a mistake.
“I think people tend to forget that when Adrian did make a mistake, he admitted he made a mistake,” Spielman said. “He went through the process in the court system. He’s currently suspended by the NFL right now, but he’s done a lot of positive things in this community as well.
“I’ve known Adrian his whole career and what type of person Adrian is. But I also know that we have to follow everything that’s put in place for us. Is there a resolution? Not right now. All I know is where we stand today. Does that change? I’m sure it’s going to change. Until those things change and get resolved, right now, we have Adrian Peterson, who is under contract for next year, who is currently suspended by the NFL. That’s pretty much all I can go into right now.”
Spielman deflected a point-blank question on whether the Vikings can afford Peterson’s current salary cap figure of $15.4 million.
“I’m not going to get into anything from a business-related standpoint with not only his, but any player’s contract,” Spielman said. “That’s stuff that we’ve always handled internally. I will always keep the business side of players contract internal.”
Taking the cap numbers and off-the-field issues out of play, it’s obvious where Spielman stands on Peterson, the player.
“Zim has expressed his opinion on Adrian,” said Spielman, referring to Zimmer’s earlier comments about wanting Peterson to return. “And there’s no doubt or no question on what Adrian Peterson has done for this organization on the field and what he is as a football player.”
Peterson will turn 30 this year. Normally, that’s ancient for most running backs. Spielman said Peterson isn’t a normal running back, so it’s probably a good idea not to assume things about AP. After all, it was assumed he wouldn’t be the same after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Then he came back and ran for 2,097 yards and won MVP honors.
“The only thing I would say about Adrian is Adrian is maybe one of the most unique players I’ve ever been around,” Spielman said. “Everybody talked about how he’s not going to be the same after his ACL. And that was his best year, coming back from that.
“Knowing Adrian, I know that he is going to want to come back and play. He’s going to play at a very high level when he comes back. I’m anticipating that, just knowing what he’s done in the past.”
Under rules of Peterson’s suspension, the team has not been allowed to have contact with him. That makes it even more difficult for the Vikings when it comes to figuring out how this all will end.
“All I know is where we are today,” Spielman said. “I’m not going to get into all the hypothetical discussions we have internally.
“I'll just stick by with what I said. I know that Adrian is a good person, just being around him. I know he's done a lot of good in this community. What he did – he just came out and said he made a mistake. As Zim had stated earlier, he has to get all that in order and then we'll proceed from there.”