EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said the team has not talked to Adrian Peterson or his agent about the running back's contract for the 2017 season, but Spielman said no matter what happens with Peterson in the next two weeks, "Adrian will always be a Minnesota Viking."
Peterson, who turns 32 on March 21, has a team option for the 2017 season that would pay him $18 million and trigger a $6 million roster bonus if he's on the roster by the third day of the league year. The Vikings have to make a decision on Peterson's option by the start of the league year on March 9, but it seems likely that the team would try to work out a restructured deal if it plans to keep him, rather than bringing him back on the option.
"Adrian Peterson has a significant contract coming up. We have to make a decision," Spielman said. "I'm not going to announce anything, but that will get addressed here before free agency starts. The one thing I will say is, if we don't exercise that option, we will always keep the door open on all of our players. But in my mind, regardless if Adrian is here or not here next year -- because of whatever happens -- he will always be a Minnesota Viking. If he's fortunate enough to go in the Hall of Fame, and fortunate enough to go in the [Vikings] Ring of Honor, in my mind, he's a Minnesota Viking."
The Vikings face a decision on Peterson after a year where he played just three games after tearing the meniscus in his right knee on Sept. 18. Peterson carried 37 times for 72 yards last season, returning in less than three months from his injury to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 18, but he sat out the Vikings' final two games because of an adductor strain he suffered in his first game back.
He has said he wants to be back in Minnesota, but he also said in an ESPN appearance last month that he's been keeping an eye on a number of other teams should the Vikings not bring him back, among them the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans.
Should the Vikings choose to part ways with Peterson, drafting a running back would certainly be an option. Spielman called the running back class in the 2017 NFL Draft the strongest he's "ever seen."
The future of Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also remains uncertain, after Bridgewater tore his ACL and dislocated his left knee on Aug. 30. Spielman said there is no timetable for Bridgewater's return, calling it "unfair for anyone to put a timeline on an injury like that."
Bridgewater is continuing to rehab his knee, but he's not doing any football-related activities yet, according to Spielman
"I know where he's at today. No one knows where he's going to be three months from now," said Spielman. "You just have to react, and how he's reacting to his rehab, he's pushing it as hard as he can, and when it happens, it happens. But I don't have any concern that he's going to do everything that he possibly can to get back as quickly as he can."
When asked if the quarterback would play again, Spielman said, "Well, everybody's hoping, but I'm not a soothsayer."
The Vikings traded their first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford on Sept. 3 after Bridgewater's injury, and Spielman said he'd make that trade again in a "mini-second." He would not say whether the Vikings would look to work out an extension with Bradford, whose contract expires after the 2017 season. "Everything's in flux right now," Spielman said. "I'll just leave it at that."