GM Spielman says Vikings are on same page, ‘expect’ Peterson to return
There is no doubting the Minnesota Vikings’ public stance on running back Adrian Peterson: The team expects Peterson will return next season.
From owner Mark Wilf to newly promoted chief operating officer Kevin Warren, the team has supported a return by Peterson, who missed all but one game last season while on the commissioner’s exempt list as he was facing charges of injuring his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch and later suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman echoed what others in the organization had said recently while speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
"Our whole organization is on that same page," Spielman said. "He’s a unique player you don’t see come around too often. Adrian’s been a key part of our organization. He’s made a mistake. He’s doing everything and he’s got to follow through, rectifying and doing the things the NFL is requiring him to do.
"We expect Adrian Peterson to be part of our football team."
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner had similar thoughts during an interview with KFAN radio Wednesday, saying "Everyone from the players to the staff, everyone in our organization would be thrilled to have Adrian back."
Wilf, Warren and coach Mike Zimmer said they hope Peterson, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, will return. But Spielman went further in declaring Peterson would be back than he had done previously.
While meeting with reporters in January for his annual end-of-season interview, Spielman spoke highly of Peterson and said "any team" would love to have Peterson, but had withheld a firm stance that the soon-to-be 30-year-old running back would return.
Peterson ran for 75 yards on 21 carries in the season-opener last year before he was indicted on charges of injuring his 4-year-old son while disciplining the boy with a tree branch. Peterson is still suspended by the league and is facing possible reinstatement on April 15.
Peterson and the NFL Players Association are currently suing the league, hoping to have his suspension nullified. Leaving a hearing in a Minneapolis courthouse earlier this month, Peterson said "of course" when asked if he wants to return to the Vikings.
A first-round draft pick in 2007, Peterson has rushed for 10,190 yards — the third most by an active player — and 5.0 yards per carry in his NFL career with Minnesota.
Spielman, who can’t speak with Peterson during the suspension, said he expects he will visit with Peterson’s representatives.
Whether it’s hard that he can’t tell Peterson his feelings personally, Spielman replied, "I’m sure he reads the papers."
While saying he expects Peterson to be back with the Vikings, Spielman also has to consider the business aspect of the decision. Peterson, who turns 30 in March, is scheduled to make $12.75 million in base salary next season and would count $15.4 million against the team’s salary cap.
Peterson still has three years remaining on the contract he signed in 2011, making him the league’s highest-paid running back.
"I’m not going to get into anything from a business perspective," Spielman said Wednesday. "Again, Adrian or any of our other players, I won’t talk business, what their contract status is or anything down that line."
FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig who is at the combine in Indianapolis contributed to this report.
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