Adrian Peterson: "I'm not worried about my contract"
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Sports Writer
MANKATO -- Adrian Peterson is entering the final year of his contract, and it could be argued that he has plenty of leverage if he wanted to hold out of training camp to force the Minnesota Vikings into getting a long-term extension done.
Peterson insists the thought never crossed his mind.
The star running back returned to Vikings camp on Friday after missing three days for the birth of his son. He said he is not concerned about his contract status or risking an injury while playing arguably the game's most brutal position.
"I'm not worried about my contract at all. At all," Peterson said. "My main focus is doing what I can do, learn this offense and help the Minnesota Vikings win the Super Bowl."
He is due to make $10.7 million in base salary after four dynamic seasons helped him achieve every performance bonus in the deal he signed after being drafted in 2007. He already has tied the franchise record for career rushing touchdowns with 52, set the franchise single-season rushing record with 1,760 yards in 2008 and broke the NFL's single-game rushing mark with 296 yards in 2007.
Last season he rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 TDs, earning his fourth Pro Bowl berth in as many years.
The shelf life for running backs in the NFL is considered one of the shortest of any position, and Peterson has put himself in line for a big payday with his production. The Carolina Panthers gave DeAngelo Williams, who has struggled with injury far more than Peterson and has been far less productive in his career, $21 million in guaranteed money this offseason.
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is holding out for more money, though he is due to make only $800,000 in base salary this season. Frank Gore held out of the first four days of San Francisco 49ers camp before reporting and Chicago's Matt Forte also has expressed a desire for a new deal.
"To each his own," Peterson said. "It's different situations for different guys. I'm not really hurting for anything. I'm comfortable in the position I'm in. I'm ready to play ball.
"It wasn't a decision that I had to sit back and ponder, if I want to hold out or do this, do that. I knew when training camp starts, I'm going to be there. There was no ifs, ands or buts."
Peterson said he was letting agents Ben Dogra and Tom Condon worry about the contract, and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has said repeatedly that locking him up with a long-term deal is one of the team's top priorities.
"He's got a great attitude and he's here to play, and I know he's going to let his representatives along with our organization handle his contract," Frazier said. "And I'm sure that they'll get things done when they're supposed to."
Peterson showed up for work on the first day of camp on Monday, but had to leave early to head to Houston for the birth of his son, Adrian Jr.
"We'll call him Deuce," Peterson said.
He also said he regretted a comment he made during the lockout that compared the NFL to modern-day slavery.
"I regret using those words because obviously there's nothing, absolutely nothing, you can compare to slavery," Peterson said. "It stands alone. It was something that I should've used better wording to put that out there."
He worked on a video with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher to raise awareness about human trafficking and said they plan to do more work together this year to continue to address the issue.
Now Peterson is focused on football and learning new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's system. He was thrown right back into the thick of things on Friday, even participating in some live tackling drills, which almost never happened over the last few years.
"(Running backs coach) James Saxon said, 'Coach, you all right with Adrian being in there?'" Frazier said after practice. "'Yes, I am.'
"Hopefully, it'll pay off for us. We'll have to watch some things during the preseason. It won't happen that often, but it's part of what we do for a living. It's tackling. It's hitting. It's running. It's football."
Musgrave has promised to get Peterson involved in the passing game as well, and he made several nice grabs to showcase his improved hands.
Peterson was drafted by the Vikings seventh overall in 2007, but remained non-committal about his desire to stay in Minnesota for the long term.
"I'm going to sit back and let the chips fall where they may," Peterson said. "The only thing I can do is control what I can control, and that's coming out and making sure I'm prepared. Making sure that I'm doing everything I can do to help this team win. That's been my focus for four years and this fifth year is going to be the same."