Multiple sources have confirmed to me that the Minnesota Vikings are working as hard as they can to trade Adrian Peterson, and are willing to unload him “any way they can.” Though ownership and the front office have made overtures to keeping Adrian Peterson, the reality is that they are attempting to get him off the team through any means necessary.
One source told me multiple teams are interested in Peterson, though the strength or seriousness of their interest was not relayed to me.
The Vikings have been attempting to trade Adrian Peterson for weeks.
In many ways, this isn’t really surprising. The tension between Adrian Peterson and the Vikings have been rising, ever since Kevin Warren, former legal counsel for the Vikings, was promoted to become the Chief Operations Officer for the team even though it had been revealed that he actively worked to keep Peterson off the field last year. After Adrian Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, and Vice President of Football Operations, Rob Brzezinski, had to be separated at the NFL combine, it was perhaps made clear that the relationship was sour.
Though that blowup was representative of the collapsing relationship, sources within the organization tell me that the Vikings have been working for weeks to trade Adrian Peterson. Each source heavily implied that the Vikings would not be above cutting Adrian Peterson, although that seems unlikely and none provided that explicit information.
There are all sorts of football reasons to part with Adrian Peterson, and one source indicated to me that the multiple levels of risk—age, injury and discontent—are a big reason for it. Another told me that the bad press was a big part of it as well. A third indicated “it would make things easier” for the Vikings, who have to juggle the complicated demands not just of the on-field product, but sponsors, public relations and relations with local governments who are contributing in big ways to the stadium building effort.
The chances are zero that keeping Peterson on the roster would create an obvious or immediate impact on sponsorship or stadium progress, but the value of keeping partners happy is pretty high even if abstract.
At least one sponsor has high-level executives that care just as much about the moral issues at play as they do the financial impact to their sponsored product.
Given that Warren works at the pleasure of the Vikings ownership, his participation and reward for working to keep Peterson off the field, it isn’t surprising that the ownership is not too committed to actually keeping Peterson with the team despite their public words of support.
Last year, the Vikings were looking into Adrian Peterson’s trade value at the NFL combine. These deals are often made in principle at the NFL combine, though any trade for Adrian Peterson could not be officially made until the league year starts on March 10.
With a rich draft class at running back, a growing list of running backs hitting free agency and the generally agreed-upon devaluing of the NFL’s running game, it may be difficult to trade Adrian Peterson. Add to that the growing legal uncertainty of Peterson’s playing status, and the Vikings may have to settle for far less than they did last year. On the other hand, he’s the best at what he does, and he carried a bad defense and quarterback to the playoffs in 2012.