In a text message sent to ESPN, Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton announced Tuesday afternoon that he has opted out of his contract for 2015.
Felton signed a three-year contract following the 2012 season—the deal was worth $7.5 million. According to ESPN, he was given the opportunity to opt out before the 2015 season in exchange for his “willingness to restructure his deal for 2014.”
Does this guarantee that No. 42 will not be in purple for 2015? Not necessarily.
Felton expressed a positive attitude toward the Vikings, acknowledging that he was treated well and “parted on good terms.” At this point, Felton is saying that he is open to the idea of returning to Minnesota—especially if Adrian Peterson is part of the team.
AP’s presence on the field directly impacts Felton’s role, as demonstrated when comparing the last two seasons.
In his first year with the Vikings, 2013, Felton blocked consistently for Peterson. The fullback proved instrumental in helping Peterson rush for 2,097 yards, and the season earned Felton a trip to the Pro Bowl.
During the 2014 season, Felton played only 175 snaps. Additionally, his season-high 18 came in the Vikings’ season-opener win over St. Louis—the only game Peterson played in before being suspended. If the Vikings decide to part ways with AP, it seems likely that Felton will no longer play here. He posted the following on Twitter:
“Want to thank the Vikings organization for the last three years, it’s been a life-changing few years and I have so much respect and admiration for what they’ve done for my family and myself!! Vikings fans are some of the best in the league and I want to say thank you for all your support! No doors are closed but I’m excited to see what the future holds!”
Peterson and Felton almost seem like a package deal. If Peterson is not part of the Vikings roster in 2015, it may make more sense for the team to spend Felton’s contract in a different fashion and utilize a less-costly player at that position. For example, backup FB Zach Line holds a contract deal worth only $1.5 million over three years.
Felton’s decision makes him an unrestricted free agent in March and leaves the Vikings with $2.5 million in cap space to use this offseason.