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Vikings' Spielman raves about running backs in NFL draft

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on the NFL set outside of George R. Brown Convention Center on Feb. 2 in Houston, Texas. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

EDEN PRAIRIE—Rick Spielman testified under oath four times Thursday that as general manager of the Minnesota Vikings he cannot predict the future and is not a soothsayer before wondering aloud what exactly a soothsayer is.

Round and round we went at Winter Park as Spielman bobbed and weaved during an hour-long cross-examination by writers that was more filibuster than fulfilling.

Notorious for keeping his hands stitched to the vest, Spielman turned over enough tarot cards to foreshadow Adrian Peterson's inevitable exit, Teddy Bridgewater's uncertain future and Sam Bradford's inherent value.

Even the dead know Minnesota is not picking up that $18 million option next month to retain Peterson, who will be 32 years old when he takes his next handoff.

Peterson has been seen on ESPN proclaiming his loyalty to Minnesota while winking at the Giants, Buccaneers and Texans as free-agent suitors. He openly flirted with the G-men on Twitter after New York purged wide receiver Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings to trim $10 million in cap space.

Cannot blame the man for trying to stay in the headlines and inflate a depressed market for a disposable position, especially a potential hall of famer who has leveraged top dollar from the Vikings for a decade.

Peterson is in for a rude awakening.

Lest anyone forget, Peterson collected paychecks despite being suspended 15 games in 2014 after he was indicted for abusing his then-4-year-old son. The ugly episode poisoned the Vikings when pictures were leaked revealing the boy's injuries and Peterson martyred himself as the victim of a politicized front office and league.

Depreciation spares no one, not even this superhuman.

In his last eight games before suffering a torn meniscus in Week 2 last season, Peterson averaged a trivial 2.9 yards per carry with just three touchdowns — a full two yards less than his career average.

Spielman said he has not spoken to his franchise star or Peterson's agents about a restructured contract. But he could not stop gushing about the running backs available in this year's NFL draft.

Labeling the ball-carrier class "the deepest I've ever seen" is a dog whistle for the Vikings jettisoning Peterson and all his baggage before drafting a running back.

"If we don't exercise that option, we always will keep the door open on all of our players," Spielman said. "But in my mind, regardless of whether Adrian is here or not, whatever happens, he will always be a Minnesota Viking."

So, in lieu of flowers ...

Bridgewater continues rehabbing six months after tearing multiple ligaments among serious structural damage to his left knee, an injury so devastating the Vikings are reluctant to offer any timeline for his recovery.

Spielman pushed back against a national report that Bridgewater would miss the entire 2017 season, reiterating there is no conventional recovery period for such a significant injury. He also stopped short of saying whether he believed Bridgewater would play again.

"Teddy is attacking his rehab as diligently as he can," Spielman said.

Yet Bridgewater has not been able to resume football-related activities, such as dropping back in the pocket, which was how he was hurt during a non-contact drill at the end of last preseason.

"I know he's doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional," Spielman said.

Gulp.eague."

Sounds like some soothsaying there.

Meanwhile, it is apparent Bradford is more than a short-term solution to a position that has vexed the Vikings for a decade.

After setting a single-season NFL record in 2016 by completing 71.6 percent of his dink-and-dunk passes, the former No. 1 overall pick is due $17 million as a lame duck.

Spielman was noncommittal about a contract extension for Bradford, who cost Minnesota its first-round pick for 2017 in September's triage trade with Philadelphia. With so much skin in the game it was hardly surprising the GM would toss bouquets at Bradford.

"I think he's right now in the prime of his career," Spielman said. "Looking back on that trade, with all the other options, I would do that over in a mini-second to get a Sam Bradford on our football team with the circumstance we were dealing with because I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player and quarterback in this l

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