Some breakups are destined to end up being messy no matter how hard one side might try to make the split amicable.
It appears that will be the case when it comes to the Vikings’ almost-certain divorce from Adrian Peterson.
Don’t fault the Vikings on this one.
General manager Rick Spielman has done his best to keep things peaceful since announcing the Vikings would not pick up the $18 million option on Peterson’s contract for 2017.
Spielman was truthful in telling Peterson that the Vikings needed to focus their free-agent efforts on pursuing offensive line help, and everyone knew the Vikings never intended to pay Peterson what would have been an outrageous and irresponsible sum for a running back.
Spielman also left the door open for Peterson to return to the Vikings on a lesser deal, although the contention from this corner has been this was more lip service than anything.
The Peterson camp, meanwhile, has gone into overdrive this week in attempting to create a market for the running back that might not even exist. It comes as no surprise that Peterson’s father and lead spokesman, Nelson, has made himself available to comment on his son’s free-agent pursuits.
Nelson Peterson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Tuesday that the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders have emerged as the two most likely destinations if Adrian leaves the Vikings. Last week, Nelson Peterson tossed out the New England Patriots as a team in which his son was interested.
On Wednesday, Adrian Peterson posted video of himself on Twitter that showed him in practice upon returning from a meniscus tear late last season. It’s an attempt by Peterson to show teams and fans that although he turns 32 on March 21 he still can be a dominant running back.
Honestly, it’s sad to watch. This is practice footage that proves nothing and came before Peterson played in a Week 15 game against Indianapolis in which his most memorable moment was a costly fumble. Peterson then sat out the final two games because of an adductor strain he suffered against the Colts.
How Peterson and his followers elect to approach free agency is their business, and something the Vikings likely don’t care about, but where this has started to get messy is because Adrian seems to be counting on the Vikings as his fallback option.
Nelson Peterson told the Pioneer Press that the Vikings should have extended an offer to Adrian instead of just setting him loose. “The Vikings should have come back with a number if you truly want him back,” Nelson Peterson told the paper. “I listened to (Spielman say last week at the NFL scouting combine that) ‘We’ll have to see what the market is.’ If you do want him back, give him a number. Is it $9 million? Is it $8 million? That would have made him feel more appreciated. … He’s done too much for the organization to be treated like (that.)”
This entire line of thinking is ridiculous. The Vikings have done right by Peterson for far longer than should have been expected.
As has been pointed out before, the Vikings bent over backward to make nice with Peterson after Peterson cost himself all but one game of the 2014 season because he faced child-abuse charges.
The Vikings would have been well within their rights at that time to end the relationship with Peterson. Instead they restructured his contract and begged for his forgiveness when he somehow convinced himself he was the person who had been mistreated.
As for the figure of $8 or $9 million thrown out by Nelson Peterson, someone needs to explain to Adrian and his father that he’s never going to come close to approaching that number. Peterson likely will be lucky to get $4 million and odds are good he’s going to have to take an incentive-laden deal that will pay him a minimal amount if he doesn’t have a very good season. Peterson also might have to wait to get that deal while some bigger names sign first when free agency opens on Thursday.
In the Pioneer Press article, Nelson Peterson took a shot at the Vikings’ offensive line while talking about why Adrian was interested in the Oakland Raiders.
“What we personally like is (the Raiders’) offensive line,” Nelson said. “The offensive line, they haven’t been playing around. They haven’t been trying to get offensive linemen from the bottom of the barrel and trying to make them into something.”
While there is some truth to this jab at the job the Vikings have done with their line, it’s funny that Nelson mentioned the Seattle Seahawks, whose offensive line last season might have been worse than the Vikings.
Odds are good that in the coming days, and until Peterson signs somewhere, the Peterson camp will attempt to paint the Vikings as the unappreciative bad guys who owe the running back something and should be thrilled if he comes back to them.
The reality is the Vikings owe Peterson nothing.
What they owe themselves, and what would be the smart play, would be to inform everyone that they have decided to move on from Peterson and that there will be no offer of any amount coming his way.
It’s time for the Vikings to realize their best option is to walk away and if the Peterson camp wants to throw a fit than so be it.