Adrian Peterson Restructures Contract With Vikings

According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, Adrian Peterson has agreed to a new contract with the Vikings worth $44 million over the next three seasons. Florio further goes on to discuss potential escalators and de-escalators within the contract worth $4 million. While much is being made of the potential loss of about $2 million for Peterson, the basics of the contract are identical to the massive extension signed by Peterson in 2011. I’ll explain in more detail in the body of the post but in general Peterson will defer some money to 2017 in return for better timing of payments in 2016.

Peterson’s 2011 contract called for non-guaranteed payments of $13, $15, and $18 million from 2015 thru 2017 for a total of $46 million. However those numbers were not the original contract values, but escalated values based on Peterson’s performance in the front end of the contract. His original contract called for exactly $44 million in payments from 2015 through 2017, which a chance to earn $4 million more based on yards and team performance, very similar to what is in the current contract. So in essence they pulled the original escalators out and are asking him to re-earn them.

Peterson will earn $2 million less in 2016 than he would have in his original contract as his cap and cash figures, based on the PFT report, will fall to $13 million. He can earn $2 million back by reaching the escalator this year. In return the Vikings have given Peterson a $5 million roster bonus due on the 5th day of the League Year, which will force them to make their intentions known quickly with him, by either trading or releasing him before the payment is made. The base value of his 2017 season is $2 million more than his original contract and the same as his escalated contract that was on the books. If he earns his escalator that year he would match the max value of his original contract. He will have an offseason roster bonus in 2017 as well to force a decision on his future.

Peterson’s new contract has a paper guarantee of $13 million for this year, which is essentially just added to get people talking.  Peterson was scheduled to earn $12.75 million this year and the odds of him being released outright between now and the first game of the season, when his salary would become fully guaranteed, were slim and none.  The $13 million salary was given to allow Peterson to recapture the $250,000 workout bonus that it seems he forfeited by not attending offseason activities while expressing his unhappiness with the team.  His cap number is unchanged for the season.

Nothing has changed in regards to the dead money in the contract, meaning Peterson can be released or traded free and clear of cap charges next season unless he suffers a major injury that kicks in his injury protectio for 2016.

  • McGeorge

    It still seems that Peterson is way overpaid, but this year and next, considering the age, position, and that he missed an entire year.

    I suspect he’ll be cut before the 2017 season.
    No way he reaches those incentives (team makes the play offs and 1750 yards)

    My question is – why did the Vikings do this? Whats in it for them?
    They have to overpay him next year, or cut him and still pay him a lot.
    For what? The ability to keep him for another year?
    Seems like they threw away 5-10MM.

    • Ghoston

      It’s only guaranteed for injury in 2016 not skill so the vikings can cut him. And it it will only cost them $0 in dead money. So it’s basically a one year deal for the 2015 season unless he gets really hurt in a catastrophic injury.

      • McGeorge

        If it’s for injury, then I’d say there is a 99% chance Peterson is cut after the season.

        That’s the problem with reading the “details” on some other websites, they leave out key information (or maybe it wasn’t available)

    • RegisHawk

      Spotrac may be misreporting the figures as a side-effect of the prior contract. If I had to guess, it looks like the $2.4 million Signing Bonus isn’t really part of the new deal, but a carry-over from the pro-rated money on the previous contract (meaning it’s money he already got). As a result, Peterson stands to make $13 million this year, $13 million for 2016, and $18 million in 2017 for a total of 3 years/$44 million.

      The trick is in the de-escalators. The Roster Bonuses for 2016 & 2017 show the full amount, but he stands to lose $1 million at 2 different conditional mile-markers in each year…

      2016 –
      $3 million real Roster Bonus.
      +$1 million for 1750 yards AND Divisional Round playoff win in 2015 season.
      +$1 million for 1900 yards AND Super Bowl win in 2015 season.

      2017:
      $4 million real Roster Bonus.
      +$1 million for 1350 yards AND Vikings make the playoffs in 2016 season.
      +$1 million for 1550 yards AND playoff win in 2016 season.

      What this means is that Peterson is not likely to get $4 million of the total because he is not likely to hit the targets set to avoid the de-escalators. So the likely reality of the contract is 3 years/$40 million and breaks down as:

      2015 – $13 million
      2016 – $11 million
      2017 – $17 million

      This makes a very nice cutoff point for management after the 2015 season. If Peterson still looks good, but the team as a whole did not succeed, they keep him on the cheap. If he hits that 30-year-old wall hard, they can drop him with no cap-hit whatsoever; and, of course, it looks likely that they will ditch him before they ever get to the 2017 season.

      • McGeorge

        I wouldn’t call 11MM for a RB cheap.
        I’d cut him and invest that money elsewhere.
        Heck, I’d bank it, and roll it forward a few years, in case they need to eventually over pay Teddy Bridgewater.

        • RegisHawk

          $11 million in “next-year” dollars, when the Cap is expected to break $150 million. The Seahawks just threw $13.5 million at Marshawn Lynch as part of this year’s extension and will pay him $9 million in base salary in 2016.

          Salary Cap Floor might prevent rolling too much money over.

    • Kirk Vollmer

      I’m not sure they are overpaying him. A lot of people still think Adrian Peterson is the best RB in the NFL and other teams would likely give him similar numbers if he was released. I can’t really compare this with the old contract but this contract seems great for the Vikings. They get to see what he’s still got and after this year they can likely cut him or trade him away for FREE. The escalators demand not only extremely high performance from him but also playoff wins and are not likely to be earned. The de-escalators can make him even cheaper if he’s not performing at a high level.

      Unless there is some sort of no trade clause on there that hasn’t been reported it wouldn’t surprise me if the Vikings planned on playing AP this year and then floating him as trade-bait next year in order to pull a high draft pick and focus on building an offense around Bridgewater.

      • McGeorge

        What team would trade anything for an old and very highly paid running back? He was very good, but hasn’t played in 2 years and is older. I can believe he’ll be very good, but at age 30 he’s not going to average 5 yards per carry and rush for 2,000 yards.
        A team would be better off getting a decent RB at 3-4MM, and using the remaining 8-9MM over two years on another good player.