Sunday, May 29, 2016

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Training camp kicks off this weekend, and we’re just as excited as you are to see the Vikings back in action. Every season, an under-the-radar player that really stands out at training camp is dubbed “Mr. Mankato.” Last season, wide receiver Adam Thielen took home the honors. Who will earn Mr. Mankato this year? Here are our thoughts:

Adam: Babatunde Aiyegbusi, OL
With a listed frame of 6′ 9″ and 351 pounds, and the “Babs” nickname already catching on, I think it is only natural that the foreign-born lineman sticks out to fans getting a first look at him in Mankato. He is sure to stand out, there is certainly a need for offensive line depth, and potential usefulness on special teams (blocked kicks!) could be his greatest advantage. Mr. Mankato doesn’t always make the team, and Aiyegbusi certainly has his work cut out for him, but I predict he’ll be the under-the-radar newcomer that creates the most buzz throughout August.

Andy: Stefon Diggs, WR
The dude from Maryland was an under-utilized stud in college (blame Randy Edsall and those terribad uniforms), who turned some heads at OTAs and will continue to do so in Mankato. I wouldn’t be shocked if he broke a few kick or punt returns for scores in scrimmages or the Hall of Fame game versus the Steelers, just to really put pressure on Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Offensively, Diggs should have an advantage against the third and fourth teamers, which will make him to appear to shine brightly in camp and look like the second coming of DeSean Jackson (without the attitude). If Diggs can stay healthy — he never completed a full season as a Terrapin — he could become the dynamic play maker that we expected Cordarrelle to become. Or Jarius Wright. Or [insert name here].

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

After yesterday’s surprise contract restructure, Adrian Peterson likely woke up today the happiest member of the Minnesota Vikings. He’ll earn $13 million guaranteed in 2015 and another $7 million guaranteed in 2016, bringing his guaranteed total to $20 million through 2017. It’s an exceptional deal for a player nearing the twilight of his career, and a deal that will keep one of the Vikings’ most important players in Minnesota for at least two more years.

Like Peterson, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has to be excited for the start of the season. When he joined Mike Zimmer’s staff, Turner envisioned “getting the field spread” for Peterson and creating more opportunities in the passing game and running game for the veteran. In 2009, Peterson hauled in a career-high 43 receptions, and Turner’s system will likely help the nine-year veteran eclipse that mark in 2015.

Without Peterson for the majority of the 2014 season, Turner relied on Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata to carry the load. The two combined for 1,108 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on the year, with each providing a different element to the running attack. Asiata is a straight-line runner and goal line specialist, while McKinnon is the prototypical change-of-pace back, able to make plays on quick hitting run plays and passes out of the backfield.

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Committed to the future

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

As announced this morning on the team’s official website, the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson have mutually agreed to restructure the final three years of Peterson’s contract. Before today’s development, Peterson was set to earn $12.75 million in 2015, $14.75 million in 2016, and $16.75 million in 2017 with no guaranteed money.

During his absence from the team, Peterson took to Twitter to campaign for guaranteed contracts, and many speculated he wanted more guaranteed money from the Vikings in 2015 and beyond. With today’s news, Peterson’s wish was granted — his base salaries will likely decrease in 2015 and 2016 with more guaranteed money and a chance to earn more through incentives, per Mike Florio.

Although team policy prevents the Vikings from releasing contract details, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports disclosed some of the information:

Shortly after, Pro Football Talk released the full details on Peterson’s newly-guaranteed money, citing a “source with knowledge of the situation”. According to the report, “Peterson’s deal carries $20 million guaranteed at signing”, with part of that guaranteed for injury while the rest is fully guaranteed.

In his report, Florio suggests that the Vikings “fully guaranteed the $13 million Peterson was due to make in 2015” and made the remaining $7 million an injury-only guarantee to be paid at the commencement of the 2016 league year.

Adrian Peterson may be back with the Vikings, and for a moment everything seems like it used to be, but the off-field situation is not yet resolved.

On Monday, ESPN1500’s Andrew Krammer reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Janie Mayeron ordered a settlement talk between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Originally, the player’s union filed the case in federal court over Peterson’s suspension.

In November, the NFL indefinitely suspended the running back for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Peterson was indicted on felony charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child in September, and he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch and caused physical injury.

The issue came in the timing and carrying out of the suspension. Peterson payed the $4,000 fine and completed 80 hours of community service according to the judge’s ruling. When the NFL suspended him, the NFLPA accused the league of what it called an “arbitrary disciplinary proceeding” after Peterson’s legal matters had been already resolved.

Since the NFLPA and the NFL have not yet come to an agreement, Judge Mayeron is stepping in. Krammer reported the following:

Judge Mayeron ordered that both sides ‘must meet in person or telephonically with one another on or before July 30, 2015 to engage in a full and frank discussion of settlement’ in order to ‘encourage the parties to address the issue of settlement on their own.’

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