We’ve known for sometime that Minnesota Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson allegedly wants to end his career as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Still currently suspended by the NFL after being indicted for injuring his four-year old son with a switch, certain dominoes will have to fall in place this offseason in order to make that Texas reunion happen.
And one of those dominoes, according to Pro Football Talks’ Mike Florio, is early reinstatement by the NFL.
"“Well, (Peterson) could make a persuasive argument with the assistance of the NFL’s Player’s Association (NFLPA) that his suspension, which is scheduled to be reconsidered by the NFL on April 15th should be lifted on or before March 10th,” Florio told 105.3 The Fan during a radio interview on Monday. “Look, I’m told he’s doing everything he needs to do to be reinstated April 15th. And if he wants to stay with the Vikings, April 15, that’s a fair target because it’s before the start of the offseason training program. He wants to be reinstated sooner. Why? Because I believe he wants out of Minnesota.”"
With the NFLPA currently suing the league on his behalf, Peterson’s fate is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge David Doty, who will either uphold or overturn the NFL’s suspension. That decision is expected to come in early March.
If the suspension is indeed overturned by March 10th, the same date the NFL’s free agency period begins, then the soon-to-be 30-year old running back could be a hot commodity. Still, Peterson is under contract with Minnesota. He signed a monster a seven-year, $96 million deal back in 2011 that makes him a Viking for the next three seasons.
But once again, Floria believes Minnesota will ultimately decide to part ways with the ninth-year veteran.
"“And I believe Mike Zimmer will let (Peterson) out of Minnesota, if he decides after meeting with Mike Zimmer he wants out of Minnesota. And if you’re Jerry Jones, and if you’re trying to figure out what to do with DeMarco Murray, you can’t wait until the middle of April. You can’t wait until then because if DeMarco Murray leaves then you gotta give up a Herschel Walker-package at that point to get Adrian Peterson.”"
Although, in a perfect world, the Vikings would love to have some sort of compensation for Peterson, his massive contract makes it difficult. He is the highest paid player in a position that has been severely undervalued in recent years. Peterson is scheduled to make just over $44 million in the next three years.
If Minnesota decides to simply release Peterson, they would save a whopping $13 million in 2015. If he truly wishes to leave the Vikings, that fact plus the extra salary cap space might be enough incentive for Minnesota to outright release him.
If so, Dallas could be his first and only stop. But Florio believes this only happens if Peterson is reinstated early.
"“So, the planets need to line up before March 10th if there’s going to be any chance of Adrian Peterson coming to the Cowboys. And I really do believe that Adrian Peterson is more attractive than DeMarco Murray right now. The moment for me when that crystallized was when DeMarco Murray was complaining about how hard it is to run into eight and nine man fronts. That’s been the story of Adrian Peterson’s career.”"
Peterson is one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. In his eight-year career, Peterson has rushed for a total of 10,190 yards and 86 touchdowns. He averages 98.0 yards per game and has rushed for over 1,000 yards every season except for one (2011). Peterson, who was the league’s MVP only three seasons ago, is also a six-time Pro Bowler who has been voted a first team All-Pro three times.
You can hear the Adrian Peterson section of the radio interview here.