MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Vikings announced on Tuesday that they are not exercising the 2017 option on Adrian Peterson's contract.
Peterson would become an unrestricted free agent on March 9 if he can't reach a contract agreement with the Vikings. He's due a $6 million roster bonus by then, or he would be released. He was also due $18 million next year, which now won't happen.
Peterson made $12 million last year and played just three games, sidelined with a torn right meniscus. He returned in Week 15, but then missed the final two games with assorted injuries.
"Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization," said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman in a statement. "We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward."
Peterson has spoken openly about playing for other teams if he couldn't work out a contract with the Vikings. He listed the Texans, Buccaneers and Giants as the most likely landing spots if things didn't work out in Minnesota.
It doesn't mean, however, that Peterson's time with the Vikings is over. He would be free, starting March 9, to hit the open market to see what his perceived value on other teams is. The Vikings could still work out a contract at a lesser salary to bring him back.
General Manager Rick Spielman will sit down with Peterson's agent at the NFL combine in Indianapolis later this week and lay out the groundwork for a possible new deal, but common sense says Peterson will be elsewhere next year.
He still wants to be a featured back, but the reality check is his check, which may be in the $4 to $5 million range. The older he gets, the more his limitations have surfaced. He can't catch the ball out of the backfield, and is not much of a blocking running back.
Peterson's father said Tuesday he only plans on considering teams that have a chance to win the Super Bowl next year.
The Vikings main priority this off season through free agency and the NFL Draft is fixing their offensive line. It doesn't matter who is running the ball if the line doesn't improve.
Peterson averaged less than two yards per carry last season as the Vikings had the worst rushing offense in the NFL.
Two seasons ago, he ran for more than 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns.
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