Rick Spielman spoke for fifteen minutes at the combine and had some interesting things to not-say about Adrian Peterson.
Adrian Peterson will be 31 in 2016 and a lot of people think it’s high-time the Vikings took a little of the burden off Peterson’s shoulders and spread around the carries to other running backs.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman was asked about this very issue Wednesday during his press conference from the combine and declined to give a definite answer, telling the media they should ask Mike Zimmer about that when he appears on Thursday.
Spielman did say he thinks about life after Adrian Peterson but added that Peterson has been very durable during his career. Still, he acknowledges that no one plays forever (via ESPN):
"“But at some point, everybody has to retire and I don’t know when that point is. Adrian may defy the odds and play until he’s 50, I don’t know.”"
Peterson led the NFL in rushing yards in 2015 but also led the league in total carries. Peterson also seemed to wear down as the season went on, rushing for over 70 yards just once in the team’s final six games. And then there was that critical fumble in the playoff game against Seattle.
Perhaps more importantly, young running back Jerick McKinnon came on late in the season and showed that he can be a productive player both in the running game and the passing game. One knock on Peterson throughout his career has been his one-dimensionality.
Though Peterson ended up having a good statistical season, there were times during the year when he seemed frustratingly out-of-sync with the offense and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He also had issues in pass protection and ball security.
Point being, you have to look beyond the stats with Adrian Peterson. How good was he for the Vikings in 2015 really? Is he the right running back for this team as they move forward with Teddy Bridgewater?
Another factor complicating this whole issue is Peterson’s contract. On March 11, Peterson’s $7 million base salary for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed plus he is owed a roster bonus worth up to $5 million . The Vikings can cut Peterson before that date without penalty and get back $11 million in cap space.
Money may not be the biggest factor in making this decision however. In the end, it may all boil down to how much faith the Vikings have in the rest of their offensive pieces. Are they ready to truly make this Teddy Bridgewater’s team, or would they rather bring back the workhorse Adrian Peterson for $10 million-plus for one year and hope he can carry them to a title?
It bears mentioning that the only time the Vikings made a deep playoff run with Peterson at running back was in 2009 when Brett Favre was running the show. That year Minnesota divided the workload between Peterson and Chester Taylor, and it worked out pretty well. Maybe the Vikes should go with more of a RBBC approach this year, but evidently that’s Mike Zimmer’s call, not Rick Spielman’s.