By Scott Taylor
Adrian Peterson’s new contract says a lot about the 2015 edition of the Minnesota Vikings. The man who spent the off-season complaining openly about his treatment at the hands of the villainous Vikings brass, not only attended a number of off-season activities, he restructured his contract and says he’s excited about the opening of training camp.
Earlier this week, Peterson agreed to forget about his $45 million non-guaranteed deal and sign a new three-year agreement that will get him $20.5 million guaranteed – a $2 million roster bonus next Tuesday, $11 million this year and $250,000 workout bonus; $7.75 million next year ($7 million guaranteed) with a $250,000 workout bonus. Year 3 is not guaranteed but right now, he’ll $6 million roster bonus of the third day of the league year, a $250,000 workout bonus and a salary of $11.75 million. In all, Peterson wanted guaranteed money and he got it.
He also praised the same people that he and his agent had ripped mercilessly just six months earlier:
“I appreciate the Vikings for working together on this restructured contract, which provides additional security for me but also allows opportunities for me to further prove my value to the team and within the NFL,” said Peterson in a written statement released by the club. “It was important for me to continue my career in Minnesota, and I cannot wait to get on the field in front of Vikings fans again.”
So when training camp opens tomorrow (Saturday), a happy, excited AP will lead his team on the field. And hundreds of thousands of Vikings fans will rejoice.
And I’m not being facetious here. If Peterson is healthy – and after missing 15 games last season he should be – the Vikings will be a better team than the one that was on the field last season. And considering that for most of the season, the Vikes were led by a rookie quarterback, had no breakaway back and were saddled with two or three receivers that weren’t as good as advertised, they were far from the worst team in the NFL.
In fact, the Vikings finished 7-9-0. Considering everything that happened, that’s pretty good. And considering that with Peterson’s return and some improvements at other positions, the Vikings have the tools to take a run at a playoff spot in 2015.
We’ll get back to AP in a second, but first, here are the 10 things we need to watch at training camp – and for a few weeks after training camp:
(1) Who will win the battle for right guard – T.J. Clemmings, Tyrus Thompson, David Yankey or veteran Joe Berger?
(2) Will Matt Kalil have a better season at left tackle? He’d better or the Vikings won’t reach the expectations of the team’s coaching staff.
(3) Chad Greenway is entering his 10th season and Brian Robison is now 32. Will they still be good enough?
(4) is second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks good enough to win the middle linebacker’s job? The coaching staff predicts he’ll be better than Jasper Brinkley who signed with Dallas during the off-season.
(5) Is first round pick Trae Waynes good enough? Is he ready to play professional football?
(6) Will the addition of former All-Pro wideout Mike Wallace make Charles Johnson a better receiver (he’s already pretty good) and Teddy Bridgewater a better quarterback? Greg Jennings is gone. Will Wallace and Johnson make the Vikings better?
(7) Can TE Kyle Rudolph stay healthy enough to play an entire season. Or at least 14 or 15 games? If he can, Bridgewater will be a better quarterback.
(8) Can the defense survive the first four weeks of the season – San Francisco, Detroit (at home), San Diego (at home) and Denver?
(9) Will second year WILL LB Anthony Barr become the monster pass rusher that the Vikings believe he will be?
(10) Adrian Peterson.
“This new agreement is a win for both Adrian and the Vikings and is a positive step toward Adrian finishing his career as a Minnesota Viking,” said Vikings GM Rick Spielman in a written statement. “As we have consistently said, Adrian is a valuable part of the Vikings organization and we look forward to his return to the field.”
With AP back and happy, the Vikings should be a better football team this year. If the 30-year-old back who certainly has something to prove plays as well as head coach Mike Zimmer hopes, the Vikings could be a threat.
This should be a run-first football team with a dangerous passing attack. If the defense is as good as the coaches hope, 2015 should be a fun season. That is, of course, if the improving Vikings survive the first four weeks.