The relationship between the Minnesota Vikings and star running back Adrian Peterson remains tenuous.
Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, said Friday that he declined an invitation from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman to meet over dinner during the NFL owners meetings in Arizona next week.
Vikings officials have met with Peterson twice this month, one visit by Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer to Peterson’s home near Houston and one trip by Peterson to the New York area to speak with owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf and Spielman.
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Peterson has expressed uneasiness about returning to Minnesota to resume his career that was halted last year while the child abuse case he was involved in played out in court and then through the league’s personal conduct policy. His suspension, ordered by Commissioner Roger Goodell through at least April 15, was tabled after a federal judge knocked down the NFL arbitrator’s denial of Peterson’s appeal. Peterson was returned to the special exempt list, pending further developments on the legal front.
Peterson’s contract with the Vikings doesn’t expire until after the 2017 season. Spielman recently told Dogra the team does not plan to release Peterson, who turns 30 on Saturday. So either the Vikings work out a trade to another team or Peterson puts aside his feelings and plays for $13 million in 2015. There’s always the possibility of a renegotiated deal, giving Peterson more guaranteed money, but if he’s not happy that’s beside the point.
The Vikings have plenty of space under the salary cap to keep Peterson on his current contract. Everyone from the Wilfs to Spielman to Zimmer has said they’ll welcome Peterson back once he’s reinstated by the NFL.
In the meantime, the Vikings must prepare for the possibility of a backfield without Peterson, their all-time leading rusher who appeared in only one game in 2014 because of the child abuse case that involved injuries to his 4-year-old son. Jerick McKinnon will return after a decent rookie season, Matt Asiata was re-signed for depth and former Green Bay Packers backup DuJuan Harris was signed on Thursday. The running back class in the draft this year is considered strong, as well.
The Vikings revamped their wide receiver group by acquiring Mike Wallace in a trade and releasing Greg Jennings. They also swapped backup quarterbacks by trading Matt Cassel and signing Shaun Hill. Otherwise, pending resolution to Peterson’s status, this has been a relatively quiet offseason. The Vikings hosted safety Taylor Mays, who played for Zimmer with the Cincinnati Bengals, on a free-agent visit this week. But he left town without a deal.