Rather than wait for the off-season in what portends to be a season in which Adrian Peterson is both heavily utilized and shows that he can handle the heavy workload better than any other NFL back, the Minnesota Vikings, on Saturday, agreed to terms of a seven-year, $100 million dollar contract with Peterson. If done properly, the deal, which includes $36 million in guaranteed money, could be a boon for the Vikings. If done improperly, or if Peterson has a career-ending injury in the next two years, the deal could sink the franchise for years to come.
Though the full terms of the Peterson deal have yet to be disclosed, the deal must include no less than $14 million in guaranteed money, and cap hit, this year--a figure that assumes that the Vikings have designated all of Peterson's guaranteed money a salary bonus. That's a good deal for the Vikings on a year-by-year basis versus what Peterson would command on the free market and slightly more than what the Vikings would have had to pay their star back as a franchise player in 2012. The deal is not without substantial risk, however.
The greater the salary bonus, the greater the peril for the Vikings moving forward. If the Vikings designated all of the guaranteed money as salary bonus, rather than as a roster bonus, the team will be on the hook for $14 million plus for Peterson each of the seasons that he plays in Minnesota for up to seven years. That's in addition to the $8 million that the team is on the hook for for Chad Greenway for each of the years that he plays over the next five years. And all of this assumes that neither Peterson nor Greenway have any meaningful incentive clauses in their contracts, almost certainly not the case.
The Vikings' signing of Greenway and Peterson to large contracts demonstrates the team's continuing efforts, in the midst of a stadium drive, to portray itself as a team intent on winning. With a salary cap that will remain intact for the next two seasons and increase only marginally thereafter, however, the Vikings are banking large on both the success and the health of just two of the team's players with Peterson's and Greenway's contracts eating up nearly 20% of the Vikings' salary cap.
Despite the tremendous risk involved with assigning so much cap space to two players, the Vikings are signing two players who should be on the right side of their prime years to contracts that should carry both players through the end of those years. By signing Greenway and Peterson, the Vikings also ensure that they control the players but that the players are content--hopefully not too content. That means both players should remain tradable, should the Vikings falter and need to shed star power for potential and cap space.
Up Next: But Can They Win? Plus, money matters.