Peterson to become an unrestricted free agent

Vikings Do Not Exercise Adrian Peterson's 2017 Option
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

There it is, the news Vikings fans have anticipated for weeks. On Tuesday morning, the Minnesota Vikings announced they will not exercise the 2017 option on Adrian Peterson’s contract. The decision means Peterson will become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday, March 9.

With the announcement, general manager Rick Spielman released a short statement addressing the development:

“Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization. We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward.”

Does this mean the Peterson era is over in Minnesota? Yes and no. Although Peterson will hit free agency late next week, the team can bring him back if they consider him to be worth market value. Peterson now has the option to test the market, gauge the interest of other teams, and possibly, return to the Vikings’ negotiating table with a new perspective.

Peterson was due $18 million this season, split into a few different categories —$11.75 million in base salary, a $6 million roster bonus, and a workout bonus of $250,000. But as Tom Pelissero points out above, the Vikings’ swift action to deny the roster option—eight days before the deadline—means they’re off the hook for Peterson’s exorbitant 2017 figures.

If Peterson does, in fact, end up with another team, the Vikings could receive a fifth-round compensatory pick. Chris Tomasson reports the Oakland Raiders are a strong contender for the 32-year-old in free agency, though a number of teams are surely interested. Shortly after the organization’s announcement, Peterson released the following statement, per Josina Anderson:

“It’s been a great 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings. They know what I bring to the organization as a player, with my work ethic and dedication. I spoke with Rick Spielman this past weekend. The door is still open to find some common ground. I understand addressing the offensive line is one of their main priorities this offseason. In the meantime, I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on. My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota.”

A return to Minnesota can’t be ruled out, but Peterson’s correct in his assessment — addressing the offensive line is Rick Spielman’s main priority. The question is, can the team sign the players they want and bring back Peterson on a new deal?