Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman tried to nip the speculation in the bud as soon as the topic of Adrian Peterson was broached at his annual pre-draft press conference.
Spielman was asked what it would take to trade Peterson, the beleaguered running back who appears to want out of Minnesota after last year’s child abuse charge and subsequent suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, has pushed for Peterson to be traded by the Vikings, who made him the league’s highest-paid running back in 2011. Dogra has said he doesn’t feel a return to Minnesota is in Peterson’s best interests.
If Spielman is any indication, Peterson and Dogra won’t be getting their way.
"Coach (Mike) Zimmer stated it pretty clear that we have no interest in trading Adrian Peterson, and we don’t," Spielman said Tuesday. "Adrian made a mistake. He’s paid the price for that mistake. But I think if our organization didn’t believe in Adrian Peterson, he probably still wouldn’t be here today and that’s from our ownership on down.
"We believe in Adrian Peterson but also know that we’re a pretty good football team with Adrian Peterson in our backfield as well."
Peterson, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, was limited to just one game last year after he was charged with injuring his 4-year-old son while disciplining the boy with a wooden switch. Peterson was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while dealing with court system in Montgomery County, Texas, where he lives in the offseason.
After pleading no contest to the charges and having his case adjudicated, Peterson was suspended by the league for the remainder of the season. The NFL Players Association is continuing a legal battle with the league in regard to Peterson’s case, but Peterson was reinstated to the Vikings’ active roster two weeks ago.
From the beginning, key leadership in Minnesota’s organization from Spielman, Zimmer, owner Mark Wilf and chief operating officer Kevin Warren have supported a return of Peterson. Spielman and Zimmer met with Peterson at his Texas home and the running back flew to New York to meet with the Wilfs.
"I will tell you this and we can just end the Adrian Peterson stuff," Spielman said. "Our position has not changed since all the statements we made down at the owners’ meetings. Adrian Peterson is under contract. His suspension was lifted. We’re looking forward to having Adrian Peterson back here as a Minnesota Viking in 2015 and that’s the end of the story. That’s it."
Peterson, 30, has three more years remaining on his current contract with the Vikings. He is due $13 million in base salary and bonuses this season if he plays for Minnesota.
The 2012 MVP had just 75 yards on 21 carries in the season-opener last season. In 2013, Peterson ran for 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games.
Peterson doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on his contract, and Dogra has continued to push for a change.
"I understand the business," Spielman said of dealing with Dogra. "I’ve been in the business a long time and I have the utmost respect for Ben Dogra. He is an extremely bright individual. We’ve done plenty of deals with him. He’s successful in the business because he has all those traits to be a very successful agent. And I understand the business side of things. But I don’t know if I have any more respect of any other agent than Ben Dogra."