Updates from Sunday, Sept. 7
ESPN's Chris Mortensen provides clarity on Jerry Jones' conversation with Adrian Peterson:
Jerry Jones did have team legal cousel call Vikings to clarify phone conversation w Adrian Peterson in June. No harm, no foul for Vikes, NFL— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 7, 2014
Jones had Cowboys General Counsel Jason Cohen call Vikings, team Cohen once served in legal dept. It was not a lengthy conversation— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) September 7, 2014
If you are a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, you might not want to continue reading this.
Why, you ask? Because in an ESPN profile on owner Jerry Jones by Don Van Natta Jr., the Vikings' star running back, Adrian Peterson, called up the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and reportedly told him he would be interested in playing for America's team.
Here's the excerpt:
A man taps Jones on the shoulder, says Adrian Peterson wants to say hello and hands over an iPhone. Jones says hi to the Minnesota Vikings' star running back and listens, nodding but not smiling. "Well, I understand, Adrian," he says into the phone. The slanted smile returns. "I'd like that, too. ... Well, I love your story. I love your daddy's story. I've always respected what you've been about. I've always been a fan of yours."
Listening to half the conversation, it is obvious Peterson is telling Jones he wants to play for the Cowboys. Peterson, 29, is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $100 million contract that will pay him $11.75 million this autumn to play for the Vikings.
"Well, we'll see what we can do, if we can make that happen," Jones is now saying. "Hmm-hmm. ... I'd like that, too. ... Well, we're talking pig Latin here, but let's see if we can do that." Jones listens, nods and says again, "We're talking pig Latin here, but let's see what we can do about that. OK, Adrian, thanks."
According to ESPN's Outside The Lines, however, Peterson specified "he would like to play for the Cowboys at the end of his tenure with the Vikings." That's a bit different than him angling for a way out of Minnesota.
Of course, as Kevin Seifert of ESPN notes, Peterson may be doing just that:
Debatable whether call from Peterson to Jones is tampering. But enough to ask whether Peterson is laying groundwork for eventual departure.— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 28, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter also chimed in on the topic:
Jerry Jones may have violated NFL tampering rules; Adrian Peterson called to say he'd like to play for Cowboys: http://t.co/pPMO3jsCie— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 28, 2014
Following the ESPN story, the Vikings released a statement on the team website saying, "We are focused on the 2014 season, and as we have consistently communicated, Adrian is an integral part of the Vikings organization."
Peterson also issued a statement in which he said, "This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings. I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking."
The NFL, however, refused to issue a statement, via Jason Cole of Bleacher Report:
NFL declines comment on if #Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' comments on Adrian Peterson constitute tampering. League would have to go thr process— Jason Cole (@JasonPhilCole) August 28, 2014
Of course, this isn't the first time Peterson has been linked to the Cowboys. In 2013, he told ESPN's SVP and Russillo that he has considered returning to his home state and playing for America's Team, per Louis Ojeda Jr. of Fox Sports Southwest:
You know, I'd be a liar if I said it's something that hasn't crossed my mind before. But I've also said to myself it would be so amazing to be one of those players who stays with one team his entire career, it would be good if I could do that. But being from Texas, I've always wondered, wow, it would be cool to play in Dallas, to play back home. Or to play in Houston.
You can practically hear the entire state of Minnesota hyperventilating.
And why wouldn't they be having a hard time finding their breath? Peterson is one of the NFL's most talented players, rushing for 10,115 yards and 86 touchdowns in his seven seasons. He's a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time First-Team All-Pro and was the 2012 NFL Associated Press MVP and Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Of course, this isn't much of a story if Peterson simply wants to finish his career in Dallas after playing out his contract in Minnesota. He would be 33 years old at that point and well past his prime. At that point, Minnesota fans could hardly begrudge him for wanting to return home.
But if this is in fact the beginning stages of Peterson trying to force his way out of Minnesota, that makes things a bit more interesting. For a player who will be 30 in March—the age when running backs tend to start breaking down—and is making a ton of money, you have to wonder how much the Cowboys would be willing to sacrifice to land him in a trade.
They already have a pretty talented runner in DeMarco Murray, and the Vikings likely wouldn't ever consider cutting Peterson unless his production dramatically dipped.
So for now, this feels like a conversation about Peterson telling Jones he'd like to someday play for the Cowboys, and nothing more than that. At the moment, the mechanisms for anything less vague than that don't seem to be in place.
So go ahead and breathe again, Vikings fans.