Is Adrian Peterson Leveraging Himself out of the League?

By Vincent Frank

Reports surfaced on Sunday evening that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wouldn’t be on hand for the team’s OTAs this week.

That’s a sign of the 30-year-old running back playing hardball with the team. This all stems from Peterson feeling disrespected by the way the Vikings didn’t support him during his entire child abuse case. In addition to this, Peterson is looking for more money from the team.

On the wrong side of 30 and coming off a lost year, Peterson doesn’t have much leverage here. That hasn’t stopped him from playing whatever card he thinks he holds. This much was confirmed by Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole on Monday:

It seems like Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, is doing his client a disservice here. The veteran is set to make $12.8 million in base salary this year. That’s over $5 million more than any other running back in the NFL. Peterson wants a commitment from the Vikings—a commitment it seems the team has already made.

More than that, Minnesota could have easily moved on from Peterson during his entire off-field situation. The team has just a $2.4 million dead cap hit on his salary. It was also performing reasonably well under then rookie signal caller Teddy Bridgewater. Instead, the Vikings brass decided to support its running back throughout the process.

The entire stance Peterson is taking, mainly through his outspoken agent, reeks of a veteran that simply wants to play for a team that’s in contention for a Super Bowl.

There are two problems with this.

First off, Peterson is under contract. It’s not realistic to simply demand a trade because you aren’t happy with the direction of your team. This is also a situation that hasn’t worked out well for other players around the NFL. If Peterson were to hold out into mandatory camp, training camp and the regular season, he’d be flushing millions down the drain. The Vikings know this.

Second, there just doesn’t seem to be a ton of interest in Peterson’s services. While it was reported earlier this year that both the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys were entertaining the idea of trading for the running back, it seems that both are content with their current situation. Arizona added David Johnson in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft. Meanwhile, Dallas doesn’t seem too excited about the potential of doling out draft picks for a running back on the wrong side of 30.

Where does this leave Peterson?

Pretty much between a rock and a hard place. The Vikings could very well decide to call his bluff, at which point Peterson would have to decide between reporting to camp or losing millions while holding out. There’s no doubt Minnesota would be a better team with Peterson in the fold, but it would have no issue with Peterson collecting fine after fine while sitting out.

That would leave Peterson sitting out for a second consecutive season. At the very least, the start of the 2015 campaign. And with no team willing to trade for his contract, it could push the veteran out of the league altogether.

Photo: USA Today Sports