Reports continue to surface that Adrian Peterson, once the face of the Minnesota Vikings, could potentially derail the team's promising offseason. The former MVP running back and his agent Ben Dogra continue make life uncomfortable for Vikings brass, contriving any escape plan they can muster. The latest, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, includes considering retirement rather than play for Minnesota again.
Most likely, Peterson and his camp are not genuinely considering hanging up the cleats à la Barry Sanders in 1999. Peterson, still feeling the sting from spending nearly all of last season on the commissioner's exempt list, prefers to play out his remaining years for a team that he feels has his back through everything. Of course, the Vikings aren't to blame for the child abuse scandal that led to Peterson's absence, but that's not the way he sees it.
So how do these latest reports affect the Vikings division rival, the Green Bay Packers? It depends on how the Peterson situation plays out:
Peterson threatens retirement, ultimately returns before the regular season
Given Peterson's lack of leverage, the most likely outcome is probably a late start to his training camp or preseason. As a veteran player, Peterson doesn't need the extra reps to prepare mentally for the upcoming season. However, for a player on the wrong side of 30, missing time in camp or the preseason could prove costly.
Veterans who miss practice time before the season increase their risk of injury. Football can be brutal, and the body requires time each year to adapt to the rigors of the sport. If Peterson returns just before the season, the chances of the tailback playing all 16 games decrease significantly. And of course, less Peterson means the Packers have fewer things to worry about.
The Vikings trade Peterson
If Dogra and Peterson make life uncomfortable enough for the Vikings front office and coaching staff, a trade is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Even at his age, Peterson is still held in high regard by a large portion of the league. The offers won't be as good as they were prior to the draft, but something could materialize.
For the Packers, this removes another great player from the division. Peterson isn't the same player that won the MVP in 2012, but the list of tailbacks with comparable impact on the game is a short one.
The only question is whether Peterson would accept a pay cut to facilitate a trade. Even before the draft, his main suitors lacked the available cap space to take on his bloated contract. It's less likely the Vikings find a trade partner willing to do so now, which is why this scenario probably does not come to pass.
If Peterson actually decides to walk away from football, not only will the Vikings suffer on the field, but they'll also lose an asset without gaining one in return. Minnesota seemed at least somewhat agreeable to a trade for the right price prior to the draft, making the loss of Peterson for nothing sting even more. Even a third-round pick for the 30-year-old running back would have proved useful, as the Vikings have drafted very effectively since Rick Spielman took over as general manager.
Long term, this is the worst scenario for Minnesota. It places extra pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, one of the better young quarterbacks in the league, to become a true field tilter in his second season. That's a big ask for a player that only just turned 22 last November.
It also leaves either Matt Asiata or Jerick McKinnon as the lead back in Minnesota this season. Asiata has shown some ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield and McKinnon has intriguing athleticism, but neither can impact the game the way Peterson does.