The Minnesota Vikings looked to be on the brink of a special season last year when the team started 5-0, with wins against three teams that made the playoffs in 2015. But things crumbled after the bye week when the team went on a season-ending slide in which it lost eight of its final 11 games.
Fast forward to February 2017, and Minnesota is headed in a new direction:
The #Vikings will not exercise the 2017 option on Adrian Peterson's contract.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) February 28, 2017
The Vikings will not exercise Peterson’s contract option for 2017, which was worth $18 million, in a move that will make the franchise’s all-time leading rusher (11,744 yards on 2,418 attempts) an unrestricted free agent in March. As a member of the Vikings, Peterson went to seven Pro Bowls, was named to as a first-team All-Pro four times, and was voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2012 by the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers of America. He had seven seasons in which he rushed for 1,200 yards or more, highlighted by the 2012 campaign in which he rushed for a league-leading 2,097 yards (131.1 per game) and 12 touchdowns.
Peterson turns 32 next month, had knee surgery last year, and missed most of the 2014 and 2016 seasons. In that light, the Vikings’ decision is understandable, even if Peterson may well have some productive years left in the tank.
Peterson’s move into free agency doesn’t have too much of a direct impact on the Bears, considering that Jordan Howard was the league’s second-leading rusher as a rookie and is on an ultra-friendly rookie scale contract. However, Peterson’s departure shakes things up a bit in the NFC North and could impact another playoff race, depending on where he lands.
Minnesota was 8-6 in 14 games against the Bears in which Peterson played. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry, 111.4 yards per game and scored 14 touchdowns against the Bears. Peterson posted eight 100-yard rushing games against the Bears, highlighted by his Soldier Field debut, in which he ran for 224 yards on 20 carries, scoring three touchdowns in a 34-31 win on Oct. 14, 2007.