UPDATED – The Vikings are Coming: But will Adrian Peterson be there?
Last we looked at this, we thought the current “odd couple” of Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings should stick it out together. But since then, there’s been a lot of awkward back and forth and enough indecision to rival a Brett Favre retirement.
Early on, after his suspension was reversed, it was clear that Peterson wasn’t terribly happy with the Vikings. But the concern wasn’t mutual, as the Vikings released this statement:
Adrian Peterson is an important member of the Minnesota Vikings, and our focus remains on welcoming him back when he is able to rejoin our organization.
However, in addition to Peterson’s cold shoulder, Peterson’s dad, Nelson Peterson, also had a few words for the Vikings:
“All the options are open. There’s no doors closed on anything at this time. … Adrian will come back from this with a vengeance. He plays hard anyway, but he’s got an extra chip on his shoulder. He will bounce back from this.”
One would think that “chip on his shoulder” might have a purple hue. On March 4th, the Vikings and Peterson met for 4 hours resulting in…well…basically nothing. Peterson mentioned that he thought the meeting was fine, but he still had concerns:
“We had a great dialogue and they were able to understand where I was coming from, concerns my family and I still have. We respect each other and hopefully the situation can pan out so that everyone involved is content.”
And both sides continued to meet and try and iron out their differences:
— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) March 10, 2015
Of course, the rumors continued to swirl and the talk was that the Arizona Cardinals were interested in trading as high as a second round draft pick for Peterson, but that was later contradicted by a “source” within the Cardinals organization:
“We haven’t had contact with the Vikings about it, to the best of my knowledge. And there is no way we could live with those numbers (three years and $45 million). We just got Larry Fitzgerald’s contract under control. No way we’d add that salary.”
Of course, the Vikings have reaffirmed now that they won’t release Peterson:
#Vikings GM Rick Spielman told Adrian Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, tonight the team won't release him. No surprise but that's off the table.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 19, 2015
Which means that the options are going to be limited. At this point, it’s get traded or stay in Minnesota for Peterson. And perhaps, regardless of what the mysterious “source” from Arizona said, the Cardinals are the most likely landing spot for Peterson. Even Larry Fitzgerald thinks so:
“Obviously, he’s an MVP-caliber player. Everybody knows that. Any team he ends up with — or if he stays with the Vikings — is going to have a great back. If he was to come play here, it would obviously mean a tremendous amount for our ballclub.”
But would he be a fit in Arizona?
Honestly, with the Cardinals spending $40 million on a 5 year contract for 3 time pro bowl former-49ers power-blocking LG Mike Iupati, this makes a lot of sense. San Francisco was top 5 in rushing yards for 3 of the 5 years in which Iupati was there (4th in 2012 (2491), 3rd in 2013 (2201), and 4th in 2014 (2167)). Clearly, a large part of that was Frank Gore, but it’s no coincidence that 2012 through 2014 were the years in which Iupati made the Pro Bowl.
Arizona has indicated that Andre Ellington will remain the focus of their ground game:
Arians: Andre Ellington is still the focal point of the offense.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) February 19, 2015
But with Ellington’s injury history and his lack of fit as a power back, the addition of Peterson in the backfield along with Ellington as a change of pace / third down back would be smart move. In addition to having Iupati open lanes for Peterson, having a running back by committee could perhaps limit Ellington’s exposure to injury while ensuring Peterson doesn’t have to carry the ball 400 times a season, a la DeMarco Murray.
Although I still believe that Peterson would do well to stay in Minnesota, Arizona could be a nice landing spot for him in the alternative.
Of course, the Vikings might have something to say about that.
UPDATE 3/20/15: Looks like Peterson may be leaving the Vikings and going to the Cardinals afterall…
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 20, 2015
UPDATE 3/23/15: And this doesn’t look promising either…
Adrian Peterson's agent says the running back is no longer a fit for the Vikings. http://t.co/e9aV7aiUT5
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 24, 2015