No matter where Adrian Peterson is now, or next month or when training camp gets underway, the Minnesota Vikings are betting he’ll be in uniform and ready to rip for their nationally televised opener Sept. 14 against the San Francisco 49ers.
That doesn’t change with Peterson’s absence from this week’s voluntary organized team activities, reviving speculation he wants a trade or might retire, which is only marginally more likely than joining the circus.
It probably won’t change if Peterson keeps sitting out through next month’s mandatory mini-camp or into training camp in late July, even though nobody truly knows how far the strong-willed superstar is willing to take his beef with the organization.
The question is, will the Vikings continue to cover their eyes, plug their ears and trust that Peterson’s unhappiness won’t haunt them? Or will they make some gesture to placate their best player and get him into camp, just in case they’re betting wrong?
Coach Mike Zimmer was firm Wednesday, answering reporters’ latest round of questions by saying Peterson has “really got two choices. He can either play for us or he can not play.”
A trade was always a pipe dream, considering the Vikings weren’t interested and nobody called with an offer before or during the draft anyway. Retiring prematurely wouldn’t be unprecedented, but it’d be a stunner to anyone who knows how Peterson is wired.
Whatever problems Peterson had with the Vikings’ handling of his legal troubles last fall aren’t going away. Now, this is about the three years and $46 million remaining on his contract, which still makes him the highest-paid running back in football but includes no guarantees.
Nobody is going to advise the 2012 NFL MVP to give up $750,000 a week for missing regular-season games, even if he has already lost a $250,000 bonus for skipping OTAs and winds up amassing fines for sitting out mandatory camps. (Those could be repaid on a new contract eventually.)
But what happens if Peterson returns, whether it’s on June 16 or Aug. 16, and spends the season telling impressionable young teammates the Vikings don’t take care of their players? What happens if he decides to take care of himself by sitting out the moment he gets nicked?
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SOURCE: USA Today – Tom Pelissero