Vikings, Rick Spielman Back Adrian Peterson into Corner

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.



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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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  1. Excellent article Austin!
    Yep, AD doesn’t really have any other options than to play for the Vikings, unless he makes it worthwhile (Restructure) to trade him (1st rounder).
    It’s hard to feel badly for AD, as this mess is his doing and he’s only made it worse as he continues to make one bad move after the other. If I were him, I’d fire my agent, apologize to the Vikings and get back on the field and rush for 2000 yards.

    1. It’s all about pride with AD. I suspect he will wake up one morning in the near future, realize he’s being foolish, rush for 1800 yards, make Bridgewater even more effective, and take the Vikes to the playoffs for the next few years.

      1. Sweet Vikings’ fan insane optimism. Or brutal cynicism. We only have those two modes I think.

  2. Straw that broke the camel’s back… I saw what you did there… (also, great piece)

  3. Be careful what you wish for Cards fan…

    A well written article, which clearly states the AP situation from the Vikes management perspective. This is exactly the way I have seen this ugly situation for the past couple of weeks.

    Unless some kind of unlikely offer they can’t refuse comes along, expect Adrian to report work, otherwise he gets fined and won’t get his workout bonus ($250K). If sits out the season, he doesn’t get paid his salary. Also, the team could then suspend him for not reporting and clear his roster spot. I believe all the unpaid money gets rolled over onto the team’s cap next year, so it can be spent later. We should probably pickup a RB or 2 in the draft and UDFA market regardless if AP is playing or not anyway.

    Not to be a nit picker, but I believe we paid AP for 10 games (1 game he played, 1 inactive, 8 games on the exempt list), and we didn’t for the last 6, where he was suspended. I think we rolled over the 6 games suspended onto this year’s cap. That’s where most of our rollover of $5.5M came from, I believe.

  4. AS A Viking FAN I AM LOVING THIS !! Come September he is going to be pissed at the rest of the league and running like a 26 year old. 🙂

  5. Why don’t we have Adrian Peterson say his opinion and NOT HIS AGENT TO SAY FOR ADRIAN or help him say what he wants to say and become an amazing Vikings, chu chu heads up for a Viking train running by Peterson

  6. Just factually, I am pretty sure he pleaded “no contest” not “guilty”. They are relatively different concepts.

      1. No worries! Great article though. Hopefully some kind of resolution presents itself soon though. This is getting tedious.

  7. Another point brought up in the article is that AP & Dogra’s behavior is not helping their cause with the team, but it is also not particularly attractive to prospective alternate employers either.

    A well run organization may not want to bring in such a difficult, high priced employee. AP is not like other players, who have clashed with their teams on football related or contract related issues.

    AP is being difficult for reasons unrelated to football or salary; I’m not sure how other executives, who could be future employers, feel about his actions as a whole, and whether they want to “own” that.

  8. WTG Spielman, stick to your guns. A pea-brained running back and in-over-his-head agent should never be able to push the General Manager of a $1 billion business.

  9. “If anything, the Vikings have shown Peterson nothing but support during his 8-year tenure with the franchise.”

    So then, Austin, why is Peterson disgruntled? As Samurai said, your article is written from the perspective of Vikings management (and that of a fan). How about you put yourself in Peterson’s shoes as an employee, one who knows he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning? And don’t try to wriggle out of it because Peterson is a millionaire; the Wilfs are billionaires and Spielman isn’t exactly hurting. Peterson cooperated with the authorities in Texas, apologized to his son (besides his mother, the only person to whom Peterson owed an apology) but then got caught in the whirlpool of the league’s scrambling in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal. Did no one in the Vikings organization do anything to make Peterson’s situation worse? Was the Vikings’ front office united in wanting him to play at least part of last year or did some of them work with the league to sideline him after one game?

    It’s easy to say that Peterson brought all of this on himself. But did the punishment fit the “crime” or did the NFL overreact? Did the Vikings support their employee or did they, at least in part, throw him overboard?

    People talk about political correctness run amok. Did Peterson really have to be penalized by his employer on top of whatever the authorities in Texas – not exactly known for coddling “criminals” – deemed the proper penalty and corrective action? Or did the league, the team and many of the fans throw him to the PC wolves just so they could go on with the business of football?

    Or is Peterson just a self-centered psychotic for not thinking that the Vikings have shown him “nothing but support” since this incident came to light?

    1. Fair points. But, while the team may not have been “supporting” him, they also were forking over $13 million to him.
      It appears to me that Spielman and Zimmer WANT Adrian on this team. And, while others in the organization may not have supported Adrian as much as he hoped, they also didn’t release him like Baltimore did with Ray Rice.

  10. Nice article Austin….. my only qualm is with your story title…. “Vikings, Rick Spielman Back Adrian Peterson into Corner”. I think it’s AP and Dogra who have backed themselves into a corner. Totally agree that if he sits this year his value on the market next year is zero. He/Dogra foaming at the mouth sabotages any trade value he can get anyway, and makes it HARDER to trade him. What are they thinking? Do they think Zygi will just bend over and give him more money after all this sh*t! What idiots!

    1. Good call, they are doing it to themselves. Spielman is just doing a good job of not letting them dictate what happens.

  11. Unfortunately for fans, the game of professional football has (at times) an ugly business side to it.

    If Peterson was doing and saying all the right things… the Vikings would probably be asking AP to restructure his contract. Just ask Greg Jennings how far saying and doing the right things got him.

    Ben Dogra has taken some heat from fans on how he has managed the Peterson situation, but bottom line is, he has the Vikings organization begging for Peterson’s return without any kind of pay cut dialog.

    Will Peterson return to the Vikings? Good question. I think he returns.
    My guess is the Vikings have already turned down good offers… probably the best trade offer the Vikings will get has already been put on the table.

    If Peterson finds a new home, I will be happy for him. He gave Vikings fans much to be proud of over the years.

    If he returns, I don’t see a cancer as some fans predict. I see a RB that will come back with a chip on his shoulder who will leave it all on the field with heart, energy and a passion for the game second to none.

    1. “Just ask Greg Jennings how far saying and doing the right things got him. ”


  12. AD over did it whipping his son. NFL got caught in a lie with the Ray Rice video…desperate, Goodell overreacts, damage control sets in. The Vikings, caught in the middle, at first try to do the right thing (my opinion). Say, “we’re sticking by our guy!” Endorsements don’t like it…one even drops out. I’m sure the NFL calls, says, “not a good idea!” Vikes panic a bit, take him off the roster. I don’t all together blame them at this point…but they should’ve made it a point to say that this is only a temporary thing…a game or two at most! They didn’t, so it drags on. They let it drag on, let the NFL make it up as they went along. Maybe even helped them, looking at you Kevin!
    So, 3 mistakes. 1 each by AD, NFL, and Vikings. AD is having a tough time letting it go, that’s what it seems anyway. I don’t know the whole story, so maybe he has every right to still be pissed.
    One thing is for sure here, we (Viking fans) are the big time losers. Thanks AD! Thanks Roger! And thank you Ziggy! You guys owe me an apology! I’ll take 5 tickets for my game of choice, all expenses paid weekend of fun. A couple jersey’s, let’s see, a Bridgewater and H. Smith would be cool. Signed if possible. Surely, you guys could swing something like that? Thanks Ziggy, I’ll be here. Adam knows my number.

    1. Just make sure one of those tickets come my way CC (And a RT first class ticket from Alaska to Minnesota!

  13. The Vikings reinstated him shortly after suspending him only to have sponsors pull out and the league freak out. The Vikings supported the league placing him on the exempt list, but let’s not forget Peterson was being paid while on this list. Peterson can blame two people for him not being on the field: himself and Ray Rice. Without the Rice video this would probably have been forgotten. He’s to blame because he was stupid enough to hit his son until he left welts and bled. If you’re willing to forgive a man like that than good for you. You’re a more understanding man than me. I’m a fan of the Vikings but I’m more a fan of humanity. This wasn’t a mistake. A mistake is forgetting to use your turn signal. This is a crime. I hope I never have to see him in a Vikings uniform again.

    If anything it’s the Vikings that should be bitter and asking Peterson for an apology for putting them in this position.

    1. Yes, I suppose I am more understanding than you, more forgiving, more cosmopolitan and more open-minded. Also less self-righteous and, apparently, sheltered than you if you think this rises anywhere close to a crime against humanity. On the other hand, I would guess that I am just as big a fan of humanity as you are, “Vikings fan” being rather low on my list of self-identifiers.