The Real Reason The Vikings Don't 'Foresee' Adrian Peterson 'In Their Future'
Over the weekend, Chris Mortenson reported that Adrian Peterson's 2014 season has "all but officially ended" and that the Vikings "don't foresee Peterson in their future." The report also says that Peterson is in denial about his prospects for playing this year and going forward. Via ESPN:
Even if Peterson reaches a plea deal on a child abuse charge with Texas prosecutors, the NFL will severely discipline the Minnesota Vikings star, according to sources.
Peterson is in denial about his future, according to a team source. The Pro Bowler tweeted Friday that he passed a lie detector test, which served as further proof, according to multiple sources, that he "really doesn't get it."
The Vikings do not foresee Peterson in their future, according to team sources, following a botched attempt to activate the running back this past Monday only to reverse course Wednesday by placing him on the commissioner's exempt list.
Last week, I said the Vikings would bring Peterson back if they were in a position to make a playoff run, assuming he avoided jail time in Texas. My thinking was, if Peterson has no further legal issues, there would be no reason for Minnesota not to want to get their money's worth from one of the league's best players.
This argument ignored two things:
1) Roger Goodell still considers himself judge, jury and executioner and will likely give Peterson a six-game suspension, if not more (though whether Peterson would be able to successfully appeal that ruling is up for debate).
2) The Vikings would be able to shed one of the worst contracts in the league and call it "the right thing to do."
Number two is the real reason the Vikings will probably end up cutting AP. Despite the fact that he's a legendary talent and was on pace for a Hall of Fame career before this year, his contract was not-so-secretly awful, and Minnesota would be better off spending that money on a non-running back. Business Insider had an article recently on AP's deal, noting that all the guaranteed money has been paid off. It's all non-guaranteed from here, and there's a lot of it:
Peterson is three years into a six-year, $96 million contract extension. However, the Vikings have already paid out the $36 million in guaranteed money that the contract contained, according to Spotrac. That means they can cut Peterson without paying him a dime of the ~$56 million he is owed between now and 2017. The only financial penalty of cutting him would be a small cap hit ($2.7 million this year and $2.4 million in 2015, Spotrac reports).
BI and Bill Barnwell noted that AP takes up about 11 percent of the Vikings' salary cap, and unless Peterson puts up more 2,000 yard seasons (which is highly unlikely now that he's approaching 30), that kind of money isn't worth keeping Peterson around.
So rather than having a $15 million+ cap hit for one of the most replaceable positions in the NFL, why not put some of that money towards an offensive line that can protect new franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater? Maybe an elite pass rusher to replace Jared Allen? Basically: Plug up all the holes that the team has as a result of dedicating too much money to a running back.
It's not to say Peterson is replacement-level, but it's tough to justify giving that much money to a guy in the twilight of his career if you can instead spend the money elsewhere. This scandal just gives the Vikings the "moral" ground to cut a guy with so much money still theoretically owed to him.
So if Peterson does get cut after this season, understand that it's not about the Vikings being good guys. The Vikings, led by the Wilfs, generally speaking, don't give a shit -- this is arguably the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL. Like most franchises, they care about the bottom line, and that's about it.
Photo via Getty