The silence has been broken.
Adrian Peterson, who will not be attending the Vikings’ OTAs this week, released the following statement to ESPN’s Josina Anderson:
“The reason I’m not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It’s about securing my future with the Vikings. It’s business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings.”
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Peterson wanted to be traded from the team, and his sole purpose for skipping OTAs was to send a message to the franchise. Head coach Mike Zimmer received that message loud and clear, addressing the rumors after this morning’s practice.
“He’s really got two choices. He can either play for us, or he can not play,” Zimmer told reporters after the Vikings’ second OTA. “He’s not going to play for anybody else, and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
With the pressure on to quell any further backlash, Peterson released the above statement, citing “business” for his absence. Peterson is set to make $12.75 million in 2015, and is under contract with the Vikings through 2017. However, none of the $32 million remaining on his contract is guaranteed, making it easy for the Vikings to move on without Peterson after the season.
If a trade isn’t in the works, why is Peterson so determined to distance himself from the organization? Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, recently demanded that the team show Peterson a “commitment to make him retire as a Viking.” In “business speak”, that translates to a contract restructure, one that would include some guaranteed money. That guaranteed money would presumably keep Peterson in Minnesota through the duration of his contract, allowing him to finish his career in the Twin Cities.
But as a 30-year-old running back, Peterson has almost no leverage in this situation. The Vikings, Rick Spielman, and Mike Zimmer have held their ground, and it appears they’ll enter Week 1 ready to take on the San Francisco 49ers — with or without Adrian Peterson.