Ben Dogra had nowhere to turn — the market for free agent running backs had dried up, and a deep draft class of talented ballcarriers weighed heavily on his mind.
His star client, Adrian Peterson, was busy riding camels and celebrating his 30th-birthday, a-la Disney’s famous Arabian prince, Aladdin. And suddenly, he was surrounded by a horde of fed-up reporters in Phoenix, Arizona, this week’s home to the league’s 32 most powerful men – the owners.
Powerless and backed into a corner, Dogra uttered five desperate words:[quote_center]”We want out of Minnesota”[/quote_center]
As reported by USA Today’s Jarret Bell, Peterson’s agent spoke with reporters for an hour in Phoenix yesterday, but left little to the imagination of curious fans and media members. He told ESPN’s Kevin Seifert that he doesn’t think “it’s in Adrian’s best interest to play in Minnesota” anymore, then demanded a trade before leaving the hotel lobby.
Dogra, who reportedly “had to be separated” from Vikings Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski at the NFL Scouting Combine, is only adding fuel to a fire that has been raging for months.
Peterson lit the match when he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch and was indicted on felony child abuse charges last November (later reduced to a single misdemeanor charge after a plea bargain), resulting in a 15-game suspension. He then told ESPN he “felt uneasy” about a return to Minnesota, even after Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer publicly supported his return from the commisioner’s exempt list.
Peterson’s reputation and good-standing with fans disinegrated, and his camp’s actions have only given the Vikings more leverage. From Dogra’s refusal to meet Spielman for dinner to Nelson Peterson’s unsolicited proclomations, the fire is burning uncontrollably with no relief in sight.
Unless, that is, you’re Rick Spielman and the Vikings.
We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors, whether that means a contract restructure or a blockbuster trade, but we do know that the Vikings have retaken control of an increasingly convoluted situation.
This is a team that went 7-9 in 2014 without Peterson, that paid him $13 million during his suspension, and burdened the ensuing media nightmare that came with his court trial. They rewarded his generational abilities with a 6-year, $96 million contract in 2012, giving him a front-loaded $36 million in guaranteed money. If anything, the Vikings have shown Peterson nothing but support during his 8-year tenure with the franchise.
Three years into his extension, and Peterson is set to make another $56 million before his contract expires in 2017. At 30 years old, he likely won’t make that with any other team, and his best chance at cashing in remains with the Vikings — unless he wants MORE guaranteed money. The Vikings can cut Peterson without paying him any of those remaining dollars, but doing so would be a major loss — hence Spielman’s refusal to release him.[quote_center]”Peterson’s trade demands and uneasiness are mind-boggling — the Vikings are willing to pay an aging running back almost $13 million in 2015, and he stands to make far less money anywhere else. What is the end-game?”[/quote_center]
In all honesty, Spielman will need to finagle a monstrous trade to even consider losing Peterson. The problem is, Peterson isn’t worth multiple first round picks (sorry, Bill Polian) — considering his age, the “decreased value” of the position, and his inflated contract, the Vikings will be lucky to receive anything higher than a 2nd or 3rd-round pick.
Minnesota has the potential to make a playoff push in 2015, and Peterson would add more value to THIS team than any draft pick or potential trade acquisition. Think about it — Teddy Bridgewater is a budding franchise quarterback surrounded by a slew of weapons like Mike Wallace, Cordarrelle Patterson (we hope), and Kyle Rudolph. With a healthy Peterson in the backfield, this offense has the potential to be dangerous on the ground or through the air. A deep threat frees up the box, and a capable running game opens up opportunities down the field. A win-win, eh?
Would a holdout make sense? Maybe a few years ago, but Peterson isn’t in a position to lose more time on the field. He’s spent far too much time on the sideline, and after missing practically all of 2014, he’ll be hard-pressed to forego any of his base $12.75 million salary in 2015.
Yesterday, Spielman released a statement addressing the Peterson situation:[quote_box_center]”Adrian’s a member of our football team,” Spielman said. “He is under contract with us, and we are focused on the 2015 season and expect Adrian to be a part of that.”[/quote_box_center]
Spielman’s feet are firmly planted in the ground, and he fully expects Peterson and Dogra to cross the “line in the sand”. Peterson may be unhappy, he may arrive in Mankato disgruntled, but he’s also the most talented running back in the NFL. Disgruntled or not, he’s an invaluable asset to the Vikings.
Dogra wanted his statement to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, but the Vikings aren’t budging — Adrian Peterson will line up behind Teddy Bridgewater in 2015.