Adrian Peterson (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf gave two of his top players a clear indication last year that he wanted them to remain Vikings well into the future. In the span of one week, Wilf made it happen with more than $75 million in guarantees for his rising stars.
Adrian Peterson said he views his seven-year, $100 million contract extension as a deal that makes him a Viking for life.
“It says a lot, just starting with the ownership, this whole organization,” Peterson said in San Diego Saturday after agreeing to a deal that has $36 million in guarantees. “[Owners] Mark and Zygi [Wilf], great guys, just their personalities. I normally get a good feel for people with good hearts and are passionate about what they do. They might not know exactly the ins and outs about football, but I know when someone is passionate, and they show that.”
The Wilfs showed they do know how to cut a deal after signing franchised linebacker Chad Greenway to a five-year, $40.6 million deal that was announced Monday and now locked up their star on the offensive side of the ball. They also showed they know how to live up to their word. Peterson said Zygi Wilf gave him some assurances during the turbulent times of the Vikings last year.
“I remember talking to Zygi last year when things were going up and down. Maybe two weeks before [former head coach Brad] Childress got fired. I ran into [Wilf] in the locker room,” Peterson said. “We were kind of going back and forth and he said, `Adrian, I just want you to know – and he told Chad the same thing because he was right there – he said, `I want to make sure you guys are going to remain Vikings for your careers.' He stayed true to that today. He stayed true to his word."
Peterson had a litany of people to thank. He said his offensive linemen will get something, even if he doesn’t have all the cash in the bank yet. He mentioned his fellow playmakers on offense and even some of the key players on defense. And then there is the coach that most players seen to genuinely respect, Leslie Frazier.
“I can’t say enough about him. Just knowing that I’m going to be able to be around him for a long time means a lot to me, too,” Peterson said. “He’s a great coach, but even better than that, just the person that he is. He’s a God-fearing guy and somebody that I look up to and I can talk to. It was just a good situation.”
Neither Peterson nor the organization let on how close they were to reaching a deal. He was playing out the final year of his contract that called for $10.72 million in 2011 and the Vikings had just given Greenway $20 million in guaranteed money in a deal that was announced Monday.
Peterson was the next obvious step to securing the Vikings’ best players. He said he wasn’t trying to avoid free agency after this season, but he’s happy to have the security of a long-term deal.
“I was really at ease. We opened up conversations, negotiations maybe like two weeks ago, when we really started talking numbers and things like that,” he said. “They were able to come with different offers and things like that, and it was something that I had to sit back and just think about, figure out my point of view and … just put things in perspective just to see what was best for me and my family going forward. Thank God we were able to work out something.”
Peterson has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons and is already the franchise’s second-leading rusher behind Robert Smith. In only four seasons, Peterson has 5,782 yards rushing 54 touchdowns.
His contract also comes eight days after Tennessee running back Chris Johnson agreed to a four-year extension that called for $31 million over the first three years of his contract. Peterson’s seven-year deal could pay him up to $100 million and makes him the highest paid running back in NFL history.
“It means a lot, man. It shows from ownership and just this organization, that they recognize that. They recognize the [player] that they have. It means a lot,” Peterson said. “But money don’t make you – it’s hard work. Continuing to work hard and my focus is going to continue to be to help this team.”
“… I’m sure you’d be pretty comfortable, too. Comfortable, but not relaxed, because it’s not going to take away from how I play this game, my passion about this game. I’m in this position because of how I play this game.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.