The Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson could be headed for a split in 2015 once the running back returns from suspension, as the team could look at the trade or release of Peterson if the two sides can't agree on a new contract and if that happens, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
Peterson played in only one game last season before being placed on the exempt list and he eventually was suspended indefinitely after his legal case played out. Peterson reached a plea deal in that and he now can officially apply for reinstatement to the NFL in April. The Vikings have been open about their desire to have Peterson back, with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman saying publicly that he is welcome back in 2015.
UPDATE: CBS Sports reports that there was an altercation between a Vikings front office exec and Peterson's agent. This tenison could cause Peterson to consider returning to Minnesota. The report also says that the Redskins have emerged as an option for Peterson. READ here for more.
Peterson has not spoken much about his future on the record, but reports have him not completely set on a return to the Vikings. According to ESPN.com, Peterson is "still uneasy" about coming back to the Vikings for next season after the way things played out in 2014 when he was placed on the exempt list. ESPN reports that Peterson felt the move was an "ambush" and that the team did not support him as much as he had hoped. Bleacher Report's Jason Cole wrote over the weekend that Peterson asked the Vikings for a trade to the Dallas Cowboys, but that has been disputed.
Josina Anderson on Twitter reported that Peterson did not ask the Vikings for a trade and that he has yet to speak with Spielman about his future. Peterson will be a target on the market for a number of teams if he is traded or released and there are a number of teams that could absorb his large cap hit. Andrew Brandt at the MMQB wrote that if the Vikings and Peterson split, it likely will be over money, as Peterson has a $15 million cap hit and may not want to take a pay cut.
Ian Rapoport on Twitter wrote that Peterson is looking to have a "fresh start" and that echoes some comments he made earlier in the year in an interview with USA Today. Peterson has spent his entire career with the Vikings and while it would be shocking for fans to see him in another uniform, that's the business of the NFL. Peterson rushed for 75 yards in one game against the Rams in 2014 and that followed two productive years in 2012-13.
Peterson rushed for 2097 yards in 2012 after tearing his ACL the previous season and he has scored at least 10 touchdowns every season in his career. Peterson should still be productive despite his age and while a trade is possible for teams with cap space like the Browns, Jets and Raiders, there's a chance the Vikings could cut him loose to free up cap space. The team may ask Peterson to take a pay cut after his legal situation to lower his cap hit of $15.5 million, the most of any running back in the league.