After a decade as a Viking, Palestine grad Adrian Peterson may be suiting up in another uniform other than purple and white next season. Minnesota has opted not to exercise the option on the final year of his contract, effectively saving a $18 million cap hit. The decision was expected after Peterson played only one complete season in the past three years.
The 2016 campaign was the worst in his professional career and a boon to fantasy teams everywhere accustomed to selecting the vet with their top pick. Before he tore his meniscus week two, Peterson was averaging 1.9 yards per carry – a career low.
The seven-time Pro Bowler will become an unrestricted free agent March 9.
“Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in the team’s announcement. “We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward.”
At 32 — tallying 2,418 rushing attempts — Peterson is the victim of inevitable athletic mortality, far extending the average life at his position. However, the one-time MVP isn’t willing to call it a career. During a recent appearance on First Take, Peterson claimed he still has prime years left gestating in his fuel tank.
“I definitely have five strong more years,” Peterson said, when asked about his playing future. “Without a doubt.”
During the same interview, he provided a short list of teams he would like to play for, naming the Houston Texans, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as possible destinations. Murmurs have targeted the Cowboys because of Peterson’s Texas ties and affection for the team, but for Jerry Jones replacing a quarterback controversy with a running back one doesn’t make much sense. Additionally, second- and third-string backs make around $2 million in Jerry World – a price tag far removed from the amount Peterson could potentially pocket elsewhere.
After receiving the news of his dismissal, Peterson released this statement to ESPN’s Josina Anderson and did not rule out a return with the Vikings:
“It’s been a great 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings. They know what I bring to the organization as a player, with my work ethic and dedication. I spoke with Rick Spielman this past weekend. The door is still open to find some common ground. I understand addressing the offensive line is one of their main priorities this offseason. In the meantime, I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on. My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota.”
Peterson currently is Minnesota’s all-time leading rusher with 11,747 rushing yards and 97 touchdowns.
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