PHOENIX >> The Minnesota Vikings don’t plan to trade Adrian Peterson and fully expect him to be with the team for the 2015 season.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was emphatic about that Wednesday at the NFL owners’ meetings.
“We’re good to go. I mean, he’s under contract and we expect him to honor it,” Zimmer said.
“I think when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he’s going to want to go in with the jersey that everyone remembers him as. That will be as a Viking.”
Peterson’s contract has three years remaining, with a $12.75 million salary for 2015. None of the remaining money on the deal is guaranteed.
Peterson, 30, has not yet been reinstated by the NFL from his suspension under the personal conduct policy. The star running back and 2012 league MVP has balked at returning to the team, questioning the Minnesota organization’s support of him after he was suspended for disciplining his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. The case was resolved in court with a plea bargain.
One day after Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, reiterated that Minnesota no longer is the best place for Peterson, Zimmer said, “I think we are pretty firm. I think we handled everything the way we are allowed to handle it.”
“At times we were not able to speak with him, which really is kind of ridiculous because of the (league) rules.”
Peterson currently is on the commissioner’s exempt list while the NFL appeals a federal judge’s decision to nullify an arbitration ruling that upheld his suspension.
Asked if he thought Peterson and Dogra were trying to force the Vikings’ hand, resulting in a trade, Zimmer didn’t hesitate in responding.
“I’m not going to speculate on what he wants and doesn’t want, but Adrian’s under contract for three more years for us,” Zimmer said. “And that’s why you sign these contracts, why you get these big bonuses.”
In Zimmer’s first year as coach, Minnesota had Peterson for just the season opener, when he rushed for 75 yards in a 34-6 win at St. Louis. Then he was suspended by the league and eventually wound up on the commissioner’s exempt list while his legal case proceeded.
Zimmer praised his players’ resourcefulness without Minnesota’s best player.
“During the time it all happened,” he said, “the big thing was to try to put our heads down and move forward and keep grinding. To overcome a situation like that during the course of the year, maintaining focus, there’s some resiliency.”
He added the obvious, saying Peterson’s presence in the lineup would only make Minnesota’s offense better. But …
“I try to coach the guys we have,” he said, “and figure out how to win with the guys we have.”