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Peterson To Become A Free Agent; RB Doesn't Rule Out Return To Vikings
The Vikings announced today the team will not exercise the 2017 option on Adrian Peterson’s contract. Peterson will become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday, March 9.

“Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization,” said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. “We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward.”

As's Mike Florio suggested, "Not paying Peterson $18 million next season was an easy decision, as he’s 31, only played one full season in the last three and is coming off knee surgery.

"But it’s still a big Band-aid to pull off for a guy who meant so much to the franchise."

The next questions are obvious: Who makes a run at Peterson? And how much might they pay him?

While Peterson's preference would have been to remain a Viking, he has mentioned other teams a potential future employers. During an appearance on ESPN last month, Peterson tabbed his hometown Texans, the Raiders, Bucs and Giants as teams he has interest in.

The Giants subsequently released veteran running back Rashad Jennings earlier this month, a move that prompted Peterson to break out his Twitter account and note, "The Giants been making some interesting moves."

But as New York Post staffer Paul Schwartz suggested at the time, interest has to be reciprocal for a deal to be done, and there are no indications the Giants want to head in that direction.

Along those lines,'s insider Jason La Canfora doesn't expect there to be a robust market -- or any significant guaranteed money -- for Peterson.

As La Canfora explained, teams want to go young and cheap by and large at running back. There would be natural questions about Peterson’s willingness to be a backup on a good team (getting maybe 5-10 touches a game) and questions about his durability if he had to be a bell cow on a bad team. Several GMs who have watched his film expressed real concerns about where he is at this stage in his career, and wondered if he would really be willing to play on a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives if that’s what the market bears.

The average salary for an NFL running back in 2016 was $1.6 million.

“It only takes one team to do something stupid,” one NFL contract negotiator told La Canfora, “but I can’t see there being much out there for him once the Vikings let him go.”

Of course, there's no rush to find a new home. In fact, Peterson has made it clear that he doesn’t like the grind of the offseason program and training camp. He could avoid much of it by becoming picking his next destination later in the year.

In addition, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport pointed out that nobody has ruled out a return to Minnesota after Peterson tests his value on the open market.

Indeed, Peterson suggested that very possibility in a statement sent to ESPN's Josina Anderson shortly after the Vikings made their announcement.

“It’s been a great 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings,” the statement read. “They know what I bring to the organization as a player, with my work ethic and dedication. I spoke with Spielman this past weekend. The door is still open to find some common ground. I understand addressing the offensive line is one of their main priorities this offseason.

“In the meantime, I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on. My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota.”

Remember, Peterson turns 32 in March and will be coming off a season in which he missed 13 games because of a torn meniscus and a groin injury suffered when he came back from knee surgery a month and a half ahead of schedule. He ended up rushing 144 times for just 416 yards in a half season of work. His meager 2.9 yards per carry fell well short of the 4 yards per tote that's expected in the NFL.

Over the past three years, Peterson has appeared in just 20 of a possible 48 games, carrying a total of 385 times for 1,632 yards (4.2 per carry) with 11 touchdowns.

He has done that while bringing home a staggering $35 million. Safe to say those days are over, but I'll be keeping a close eye out for developments in coming weeks.