Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman had a long press conference today, and talked (as much as he could) about Adrian Peterson. No matter what he said, it was going to drive speculation. In this case, I don’t think there’s much to be drawn on his press conference that lets us know whether or not the organization is thinking of keeping him or trading him, but that doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting. At the end, it’s worth remembering that Spielman actively attempts to keep his cards close to the vest.
There are a lot of bits and pieces from his presser you’ll hear, but likely the most common one is something that could be seen as a wink and a nudge towards a trade:
“I don’t know if there’s a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want Adrian Peterson on the football team”
He of course followed that up a little later with an (accurate) analysis of the running back depth in this year’s draft. “I also know, just initially as I’ve started putting a little bit of the draft stuff together,” he said, “It’s a pretty good running back class this year. I think it’s one of the better running back classes, depth wise, that’s came out in a while.”
I think the only thing that’s really worth digging into is the fact that the Vikings haven’t made a clear decision yet. The phrase “I think a lot of it will depend on Adrian’s situation,” from him in the presser is a lot more important (especially as it immediately preceded the tidbit about the draft) speaks to—if he’s telling the truth—a flexible approach regarding Adrian Peterson as well as likely tapping into contacts in the NFL office to get a read on what the likely April 15 ruling on his further eligibility will be.
If Peterson attends parental counseling classes and further demonstrates “remorse” for the injury to his child, then the NFL will likely end his suspension (which at the moment is indefinite).
Spielman reiterated that he thinks Peterson is a good person and referenced Peterson’s charitable works. Given that Mike Zimmer is the lead contributor to “character analysis” during the draft, I can imagine his input will be huge and Zimmer has been impressed with Peterson from that standpoint. Whether or not Peterson is subject to decline is up for debate. We currently have a three-part series on any statistical analysis that may reveal it one way or the other (Part One here, Part Two soon). From Spielman’s end, he argues that decline is unlikely given Peterson’s history.
“Adrian is maybe one of the most unique players I’ve been around. Where everybody talked about maybe he wouldn’t be the same coming off his ACL, but that was his best year coming off that. Knowing Adrian, he’s going to play at a very high level when he comes back. I’m anticipating that knowing Adrian from what he’s done in the past.”
That statement alone doesn’t mean much—you would say the same if you kept him or wanted to trade him—but it’s relevant information regarding Peterson’s physical capabilities. The NFL has forbidden the Vikings from talking to Peterson while on suspension (not something I think is appropriate because it further muddies the waters on his situation) but they can at least talk to his agent. There are all sorts of rumors regarding Adrian. For example, the Vikings may have been seeking a trade in the 2014 offseason, and Sid Hartman reported that the Vikings are seeking to cut Adrian’s salary in half. Who knows?
The Vikings have a very capable running back in Jerick McKinnon and an interesting story in Henry Josey. Matt Asiata is a restricted free agent and Joe Banyard performed well enough to be worth a look at the end of the season.
Really, all that we have is what Spielman said at the beginning of the presser:
“Right now, we have Adrian Peterson, who is under contract next year, who is currently suspended by the NFL. That’s pretty much all I can go into right now.”