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Could Adrian Peterson Land with Pack?

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January 10, 2017

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At 31 years of age Adrian Peterson is coming off a torn meniscus rehab that sidelined him for most of last season, yet he wants to play deep into his 30s. It seems unlikely, though, that he will find a lot of offers in 2017 or beyond.

Destined to make the Pro football Hall of Fame one day and the greatest running back in Vikings history, Peterson faces obstacles that even he may struggle to overcome. The Vikings have written checks in the past making him one of the NFL’s best paid players but if the club is interested in bringing him back in 2017 his compensation will be greatly reduced. His present nonguaranteed deal with the club reportedly will count $18 million against the team’s salary cap.

Peterson voiced his desire recently to remain a Viking and hinted he might be willing to accept a pay cut, per media reports. A new nonguaranteed contract at perhaps a few million dollars, plus loaded with incentives based on number of games played and yards gained, might be what awaits Peterson wherever he lands in 2017. It’s believed Peterson has lost a step in his explosive running and at his age even teams in need of running backs are likely to look elsewhere.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer

To some observers Peterson comes with baggage including his infamous 2014 incident in disciplining one of his out of wedlock children. It wouldn’t be surprising if there are those in the Vikings front office who prefer to part with Peterson for more than football reasons, although head coach Mike Zimmer recently described his veteran as still “a really good back” and said he was hopeful about having him on the 2017 roster.

It would certainly be intriguing if Peterson ended up playing for the Packers next season. The team’s main ball carrier in recent years has been Eddie Lacy and he is an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The Packers have had an on again, off again relationship with the talented 26-year-old Lacy.

The Packers have been using converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery at running back. He’s shown promise and among his skills are catching the ball, something that has never been a Peterson strength. If the Packers stick with the Montgomery experiment, perhaps they like the idea of alternating him with a power runner in Peterson.

An opportunity to play with the great Aaron Rodgers and a team that is consistently in the playoffs certainly might appeal to Peterson who in 10 previous seasons has never played in a Super Bowl. It could be like payback time for Packers fans if Peterson had a couple of successful seasons in Green Bay after that franchise’s Brett Favre ended his career with the Vikings, nearly taking Minnesota to the 2010 Super Bowl.

Another team usually in preseason Super Bowl speculation is the Seahawks who might need a veteran running back in 2017, too. Coach Pete Carroll is a risk-taker and known for his willingness to deal with players having strong personalities. Minnesota fans saw that when Carroll was willing to acquire troubled but talented Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin in 2013. Seattle’s leading regular season rusher in 2016, Thomas Rawls, gained 349 yards. Quarterback Russell Wilson was second with 259 yards.

A couple of years ago it seemed that Peterson, a Texas native, might end up in Dallas. But that opportunity is all but gone with the Cowboys having a breakthrough season led by multiple players including rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott who rushed for a league leading 1,631 yards.

It’s a good guess the Vikings will try to find their Ezekiel in the draft. Although Elliott was taken in the first round, it’s not unusual to find quality runners in the second rounds and beyond. The NFL’s second leading rusher this season was rookie Jordan Howard, a fifth round pick by the Bears in 2016. Drafting a running back in 2017 seems likely to be on the Vikings to-do list, or perhaps even pursue a free agent. Both those directions seem more probable than a Peterson return.

Worth Noting

Paul Wiggin evaluates offensive and defensive linemen on other teams for the Vikings. He also watched this past season when Minnesota’s offensive line was devastated by injuries. Even when available the team’s linemen have been criticized for their performances, but Wiggin told Sports Headliners, “I think our problem is not necessarily” to acquire a new line. Instead, it’s to get players healthy, he said.

Left tackle Matt Kalil, a No. 1 draft choice in 2012, missed 14 games because of his knee injury. He has frequently been the target of frustrated fans in the past but as an unrestricted free agent this offseason teams considering him are likely to include the Vikings.

“I think they will try to work something out with Kalil,” Wiggin said. “Kalil is a pretty good football player. (But) I can’t speak for the organization. I don’t know. That’s not my job. I am not the front office, from that standpoint.”

Guard Alex Boone has played left tackle at Ohio State and with the 49ers. Could the Vikings switch him to the left tackle spot where T.J. Clemmings struggled so much in 2016? “I am not on the inside on that kind of thing, but my opinion is I think Boone is more of a guard,” Wiggin said.

Wiggin, whose title with the Vikings is personnel consultant, played defensive end in the NFL in the 1950s and 1960s. His football experiences include being head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and at Stanford, his college alma mater.

Stanford junior running back Christian McCaffrey, who is declaring early for the NFL Draft, decided to skip the Cardinal’s bowl game and prepare for his pro career. That’s not something Wiggin liked. “I am offended by what he did to Stanford but I do think he’s going to be a great player (in the pros).”

The men’s basketball Gophers, 15-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten, have their first top 25 national ranking since February of 2013. In this week’s A.P. and USA Today Coaches polls Minnesota is No. 24, joining Purdue and Wisconsin as the only Big Ten teams in the rankings.

Richard Pitino & Jordan Murphy

Richard Pitino & Jordan Murphy

“Rankings mean absolutely1,000 percent nothing to me,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said after his team defeated Ohio State on Sunday. “RPI means something to me. Strength of schedule means something to me. …Rankings are for the fans.”

The Gophers have the fifth best RPI in the country and rank seventh in strength of schedule, according to espn.com. Minnesota is tops in the Big Ten in RPI and second in strength of schedule to Nebraska.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta talking about the Gophers: “They’re a very, very good basketball team. No question.”

With fall semester over, word is the Gophers are solidly academically and all players will be eligible this winter.

Minnesota freshman forward Amir Coffey is averaging 12.8 points per game, second best on the team. He was named Monday as Big Ten Freshman of the Week after leading the team in scoring in wins over Northwestern and Ohio State.

His sister, Nia Coffey, was supposed to lead the 13-4 and 2-2 Northwestern team against the Gophers (10-7 and 1-3) tomorrow night at Williams Arena but the game has been postponed following the unexpected death of the Wildcats’ Jordan Hankins. Nia leads the Wildcats in scoring at 20.8 points per game and is third among Big Ten players. The 6-1, senior forward from Hopkins High School also leads the Wildcats and the league in rebounding at 11.2 and her blocked shots average of 1.9 is tied for second best in the Big Ten.

Coach John Anderson said last week that ticket prices will be announced soon for the Gophers debut baseball games in U.S. Bank Stadium February 17-19 against UC Irvine. Seating will be general admission only.

Anderson’s nine player recruiting class announced last month will enroll in school this summer. Some college baseball programs enroll players in January but Big Ten teams don’t.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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