No franchise should do things purely for their fans, especially if those fans are thinking solely about their fantasy lineups. That said, it would foster good will among a loyal fanbase if the team found a way to patch things up with Peterson. It's Peterson's desire to part ways, not the front office's; he has said he feels that the organization didn't show him the same kind of loyalty that he showed them. Something is broken in the relationship. And Vikings brass should try to repair it. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge David Doty only vacated the suspension decision by arbitrator Harold Henderson; Peterson still has legal hurdles in the way of his immediate reinstatement prior to the start of free agency. That gives Minnesota some time to try and mend fences.
Ann Heisenfelt/Associated PressAnn Heisenfelt
Get rid of him: He wants to leave
Peterson is the one who has verbally stated he no longer trusts the organization and wants out. It was his agent who had to be separated from a member of the Vikings' front office during the NFL Scouting Combine last month. The Vikings stuck with him through his domestic issues. Peterson has three years remaining on his contract, and he's due $12.7 million in 2015. He has a $15.4 million salary-cap hit as well, and if the Vikings released him, they'd only suffer a $2.4 million dead-money hit. It would be a wise investment to consider releasing him and swallowing that money. That way, they can begin to move on from a guy who no longer wants to be in purple and gold.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Keep him: His production is invaluable
Adrian Peterson is the type of back we never see anymore. He's a game-changing runner, one who can shake off pursuing tacklers with the grace and force of legends like Walter Payton and Earl Campbell before him. He's a throwback to the old days when franchise running backs were invaluable. Prior to this season, Peterson only had fewer than 1,266 yards once in a full season in his eight years as a pro. Peterson also had at least 10 rushing TDs in every single season of his career prior to 2014. In eight seasons in Minnesota, Peterson has played in 104 games (and started 97), scored 86 touchdowns and rushed for over 10,000 yards. That kind of productivity is rare among RBs today, and it would be a huge hole for the team to have to fill in the backfield.
L.G. Patterson/Associated PressL.G. Patterson
Get rid of him: His best days are behind him
Peterson's production has come with a lot of mileage over the last eight seasons; in fact, he's fourth among active backs in career attempts with 2,054. While he had a short season in 2014, he'll still be 30 years old when the 2015 season kicks off, which is historically the physical end of the line for backs in the NFL. Minnesota should take advantage of desirous teams like the Dallas Cowboys or Arizona Cardinals that are in the market for a running back. A trade could net them future draft picks with which to bolster the roster around franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY SportsMitch Stringer
Keep him: His absence would have unintended consequences
Besides the obvious production he brings to the table, Adrian Peterson adds veteran leadership and a warrior's spirit as well. He's an eight-year pro who can mentor young teammates like Teddy Bridgewater, Jerick McKinnon and Cordarrelle Patterson. He can be OC Norv Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer's on-field teacher. And don't forget this is a player that followed up a season-ending ACL tear in 2011 with an MVP 2012 season. That kind of courage and toughness is an invaluable trait. Football is a sport where chemistry and mental toughness matter; Adrian's presence and leadership are perhaps the best reasons to keep him.
Charlie Neibergall/Associated PrCharlie Neibergall
Get rid of him: It's the wisest and fairest thing to do
The NFL is a business first and foremost, but it's also about relationships. Allowing Peterson to go elsewhere to a team he feels he can win with is both practical and kind. There is a future in place on the team, and one in which the passing game is the budding unit of the offense. Peterson would have a chance to move on and try to end his Hall of Fame career with a title, something the young Vikings are still far from achieving. The legal hoops that would be required to drop him or trade him prior to March 10 pose issues -- the Vikings would need to meet with the league and have them drop their appeal of the court's decision to overturn Peterson's suspension and allow for his immediate reinstatement. Perhaps it's a pipe dream, but any kind of effort by Minnesota would be good.