Expect to hear and read a lot about this subject as the 2014 season grinds along.
Peterson is a running back. He's 29. And he makes a lot of money ($11.75 million this season) playing a position that NFL organizations are devaluing. In 2015 his contract will pay him $12.75 million, and in 2016 and 2017, he's supposed to make $14.75 million and $15.75 million, respectively.
Unless Peterson produces at an elite level this season, which I expect he will if he remains reasonably healthy, I can't see the Vikings not approaching him about restructuring his contract so the team can free up some cap space at the end of the 2014 season. And the Vikes might approach him to restructure it even if he puts up big numbers because they know what happens to running backs who turn 30, which Peterson will be when the 2015 starts. Will Peterson accept that? I don't know. But I have a feeling this could be his last year as a Minnesota Viking.
That makes me feel very sad. But it's also a pretty normal thing to happen. Almost all of the Viking Hall of Famers spent the final years of their careers with teams other than the Vikings. Carl Eller and John Randle finished up in Seattle. Alan Page's final 4 seasons were spent as a Bear. Ron Yary's final season was played in a Los Angeles Rams uniform. Randall McDaniel spent his last 2 seasons playing with Tampa Bay. Chris Doleman played 4 seasons with Atlanta and San Francisco before returning to Minnesota for his final year in 1999. Cris Carter's NFL swan song was heard in Miami, not Minnesota.
I don't want Adrian Peterson (who should be in the Hall of Fame someday as well) to be on this list. But I think that's what is going to happen.
ESPN's Ben Goessling says Greg Jennings is trying to impress upon Patterson how much the second-year wide receiver will be featured in Norv Turner's offense.
We'll see about that. I was happy with how Patterson's rookie season went (I was also miffed with how much better it could have been if Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier had figured out earlier in the season what he could do for the offense.) Yet you could feel Patterson hadn't mastered the complete wide receiver route tree. One puzzling thing about Patterson's rookie season was he never established himself as much of a deep threat. Patterson's big, he can jump and he's fast, so why did he only catch one deep pass - against Cleveland - all season?
I don't have any theories on that. But becoming a consistent threat to get open deep is something Patterson needs to add to his arsenal so he can be a more difficult guy to cover. And if he doesn't develop into that kind of receiver this year, whom on the Vikings will? Jennings? Jerome Simpson? Jarius Wright?
Minnesota's offense really, really, really need Patterson to up his game in this area.