The Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson could be headed for a split in the near future and the trade or release of Peterson could be in the cards once he returns from suspension, as the team may ask him to take a major pay cut and if that happens, teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers could be interested in acquiring him.
Peterson was on the exempt list for nearly the entire season in 2014 and he later was suspended and can be reinstated in April. According to ESPN.com, the Vikings have expressed their desire to bring back Peterson, but the final decision could come down to money. Peterson has the highest cap number of any running back in the league and the team could ask him to take a major pay cut after the way the past year has developed.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that a "showdown" could be coming between Peterson and the Vikings, as they would like to lower his cap number. The team may ask him to take a pay cut and if Peterson does not do that, the Vikings could look at cutting or trading Peterson. The Vikings have been very open about saying they want Peterson back and while that may be genuine, the team also likely has the PR battle in mind.
While Peterson has had his issues off the field this year, many fans still see him as a favorite and the franchise player. If he is let go, the team could take some flak from fans, but if things are framed as a pay dispute and Peterson is unwilling to compromise, the team may come out looking better. Head coach Mike Zimmer, general manager Rick Spielman and COO Kevin Warren have all spoken publically about Peterson, saying they want and expect him back with the team.
Peterson is the highest cap number at his position and as he gets to 30, the team may want to lower his hit. Peterson is making over $12 million for next season and that is a high amount for a player that rushed for just 75 yards in one game last season. Peterson could be helped along if Greg Jennings is released, as he is worth $11 million on the cap and he is likely to get cut.
Peterson could be an option for the Dallas Cowboys, as Jerry Jones has expressed interest in signing him, while the Raiders also could be an option. The Dolphins have running backs hitting the market and could go after Peterson, while the Patriots also could be a potential target with Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley becoming free agents. Peterson rushed for over 1200 yards in 2013 and that came after his 2097 season in 2012 after his ACL injury.
Pro Football Talk notes that while the team has been public about the support for Peterson and that there is "no intent" to move him, they said the same thing about Percy Harvin before trading him. Peterson is one of the best running backs in the NFL despite his age and status from last year and wherever he ends up, he likely will be productive.