EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Adrian Peterson spent the last five months sending vague and sometimes ambiguous messages about his desire or lack thereof to remain with the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer finally cut to the chase Wednesday.
“He’s really got two choices. He can either play for us or he cannot play,” Zimmer said on the second day of optional practices that Peterson skipped. “He’s not going to play for anybody else and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Hours after Zimmer laid down that edict, Peterson tweeted a statement of his own that he gave to ESPN.
“The reason I’m not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded,” he said. “It’s about securing my future with the Vikings. It’s business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings.”
Peterson has skipped the optional portion of the Vikings’ offseason workouts many times in his career, but the circumstances surrounding his absence this time around are far different.
Peterson’s agents made it clear earlier in the offseason that their client would prefer to be traded because he didn’t feel like he got the necessary support from some members of the organization while he dealt with a child abuse charge in Texas last year. Peterson missed all but one game and ultimately pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor for striking his young son with a wooden switch.
The Vikings maintained all along that they had no plans to trade Peterson, and now that it has been determined the organization wasn’t playing poker with its star player, the 30-year-old Peterson is looking for more guaranteed money as his career enters the twilight.
Peterson was reinstated last month and has three years and $46 million left on his contract. But none of that money is guaranteed. If he is on the roster for Week 1 this season, his $12.75 million salary will become guaranteed. Skipping the offseason workouts will cost Peterson a $250,000 bonus, but he is clearly more concerned with the two years and $23 million on the back end of his deal.
Exactly how much more guaranteed money Peterson is looking for remains unclear as does the Vikings’ appetite for renegotiating the deal.
Peterson is not required to show up until a mandatory minicamp on June 16. The team could fine him if he misses that camp or any portion of the upcoming training camp.
“I don’t know when he’s coming and we’ll just leave it at that,” Zimmer said.
Peterson did attend the optional practices last summer in an effort to get to know Zimmer and an almost entirely new coaching staff that took over after Leslie Frazier was fired.
Normally, missing a couple of practices without pads in May wouldn’t be cause for scrutiny. But Peterson is coming off of a season in which he missed the last 15 games and he has never taken a snap in a game with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is entering his second season.
The Vikings also are shuffling their offensive line, moving right guard Brandon Fusco to left guard and likely installing rookie T.J. Clemmings as the starter at right guard and have added veteran receiver Mike Wallace to the mix to give the unit a different look.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be on the field at the same time as Adrian because I wasn’t the starter (in the opener last year),” Bridgewater said. “I wasn’t in the starting role then. I can’t even speak on what it’s like to play with him. But I know that the guys around here have nothing but great things to say about him.”
Zimmer said he has spoken to Peterson since he and GM Rick Spielman flew to Houston to visit the running back at his home in March, but has not spoken to him recently.
“He’s missed a lot of OTAs over the course of his career. I’m not worried about it,” Zimmer said. “I have 89 guys out here that I’m coaching and trying to get better. It is what it is.”