This has been an odd off season, in so many ways. We've dealt with a lockout, court hearings, a draft, a lifting of the lockout followed by reinstatement 24 hours later, a settlement, and then a hectic free agency and a somewhat abbreviated training camp.
In years past, and by that I mean a typical off season, the Vikings would usually conduct business as normal. As in, they'd look at the players they wanted to keep, and they kept them, by and large. Going back to the then record contracts for Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, the Vikings front office has had a pretty good track record in re-signing players they identified as their core group, or guys they wanted to build around.
Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway most definitely can be described as that, so what gives?
Word just hit the street a little bit ago that the Tians re-signed the second best running back in the league, Chris Johnson, to a6 year, $53.5 million, with $35 million guaranteed. Were the Vikings waiting for the Titans to make the first move and set the bar?
No, I don't think they were. The Vikings have never really been a team to let somebody else set the market, at least since Zygi Wilf has owned the team. Wilf has opened up the wallet, and I would expect that if things were normal the same would be true.
But they're not normal. And I don't mean in terms of the off-season.
I personally think the Vikings are waiting until they find out about a new stadium. If the Arden Hills bill passes, I would expect to hear within a week that Greenway and Peterson have both signed long term deals to stay in Minnesota, with money that is at the top of what their positions pay out.
If the Arden Hills bill is not passed, I don't think Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway will be back.
'But Ted,' you're saying, 'that's just frickin' stupid. There's no way Wilf would allow such a PR disaster on the heels of losing the stadium fight. He'll need those guys as the face of the franchise for the 2012 stadium bill."
My friends, there won't be a 2012 stadium bill.
I feel that if Wilf loses this Arden Hills battle, he will start preparing the team to sell. In positioning a team, or any asset, for that matter, to sell, one of the things you need to do is streamline and cost cut to the gretest extent possible, so there is as little overhead debt for the proposed buyer.
Expensive extensions for Peterson and Greenway would qualify as overhead debt.
Everything about the Vikings, from here on out, is peripherally tied to the stadium bill. If the bill gets passed, life will be golden. If it doesn't, I expect Wilf to start shedding as much debt as he can, like those contract extensions. A lot of the buildings he owns in New Jersey, around 25 or so, have been damaged by the flooding due to Hurricane Irene, and that's going to cost him some money as well. That has to be taken into consideration as well.
I know I'm beating a dead horse here, and I know we just want to talk football, but at this point, I don't think one (football) is mutually exclusive to the other (stadium bill) anymore.
The good thing about the Special Session of the Legislature getting called in September (hopefully) is that it if the bill gets passed, they can get Greenway and Peterson signed early enough into the season so that it won't matter, and if a bill fails, we know there probably won't be contract extensions, and the determination to keep those two will be made by the new ownership group.
That's why, in my opinion, Greenway and Peterson don't have contract extensions yet.