Vikings running back Adrian Peterson reiterated on Thursday that he hopes to remain in Minnesota until he retires, responding to a report that he spoke to Jerry Jones about one day playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Peterson and the Vikings both issued statements shortly after ESPN reported that Peterson had a phone conversation with Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, this summer about playing for the team in Peterson’s home state after his time with the Vikings came to a close.
"This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings," Peterson said. "I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking."
The business part of the NFL is starting to come into play for the 29-year-old Peterson, who is the league’s highest paid running back, a position that is increasingly occupied by younger, cheaper players. He will make $12 million in 2014 and those salaries climb in each of the final four seasons of his seven-year deal, culminating with $16 million in 2017.
Because of the way his contract is structured, which allows the Vikings to release him without incurring hardly any salary cap issues after this season, Peterson is essentially on a series of one-year deals controlled by the team. If his production declines as he gets older, he could be released or asked to take a pay cut.
Under NFL rules, Jones was required to notify the Vikings when he had that conversation with Peterson. But there was no indication that Jones did.
"We are focused on the 2014 season, and as we have consistently communicated, Adrian is an integral part of the Vikings organization," the Vikings said in a statement.
Peterson rushed for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns last season but has required surgery to repair an injury in each of the last three offseasons. Nevertheless, he remains as determined as ever to prove that he will not hit the wall that often accompanies a running back’s 30th birthday.
"It doesn’t apply to me," Peterson said in June. "I have a totally different mindset and mind frame, so I’ll just stay in my lane and let everybody else say what they have to say."