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Adrian Peterson And Trade Value

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It isn't going to happen, but Grantland supposes on what many Vikings fans think is unthinkable

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell ranked the 50 most tradeable/valuable assets in the NFL, and Vikings superduperstar RB Adrian Peterson came in at #42.  Here's Barnwell's reasoning:

42. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota

Last year, Simmons suggested you could win 10 games with Peterson, a half-decent defense and schedule, and Dennis Quaid at quarterback, leaving unanswered the question about whether he would have preferred Quaid to Christian Ponder, Freeman, and Cassel. But 2013 really illustrated how hard it is to win with Peterson under his current contract, and how nobody else in football really operates this way. Your typically good Adrian Peterson season is 15 games, 300 carries, 1,400 rushing yards, and 12 touchdowns. That comes with a cap hit, in 2014, of $14.4 million. No other back in football is above $10 million, and the median starting running back has a cap hit of somewhere around $3.4 million.

That's $11 million you can't put toward an offensive line or a secondary or, yes, a quarterback. If you know you're going to get a 2,000-yard season out of Peterson like you did in 2012, you would happily pay that extra $11 million. But you're more likely to get the typical Adrian Peterson season, like 2013's 279-1,266-10 line, which isn't far off from what somebody like Alfred Morris can do for $500,000. Every team would love to have Peterson. Very few want to commit nearly 11 percent of its salary cap to a running back, even one as good as Peterson.

Okay, from a neutral perspective, not a bad rationale. But let's break this down a bit.

Last year, Simmons suggested you could win 10 games with Peterson, a half-decent defense and schedule, and Dennis Quaid at quarterback, leaving unanswered the question about whether he would have preferred Quaid to Christian Ponder, Freeman, and Cassel.

I would've preferred Dennis Quaid in that Monday Night start over Freeman, but that's just me.  And in defense of Bill Simmons, if they Vikings did have a halfway decent defense, he would have nearly hit his mark. They lost last minute leads in five games, to include the tie at Green Bay. If the defense holds on, that's a 10 win season.

But 2013 really illustrated how hard it is to win with Peterson under his current contract, and how nobody else in football really operates this way. Your typically good Adrian Peterson season is 15 games, 300 carries, 1,400 rushing yards, and 12 touchdowns. That comes with a cap hit, in 2014, of $14.4 million. No other back in football is above $10 million, and the median starting running back has a cap hit of somewhere around $3.4 million.

I would argue Adrian Peterson's contract had nothing to do with the Vikings 5-10-1 season. I mean really, that seems like a specious argument, at best. He made $11.25 mil last year, he made just over $8 mil in 2012...when the Vikings won 10 games and went to the playoffs.  The Salary Cap is set to possibly increase to $150 million (currently at $133 million)  in coming years, and with the rookie wage scale in place, the extra money is supposed to go to veteran producers, just like Peterson. It seems that we used to be mad that rookies made a lot more money than the established veteran players. And now that the CBA has been changed to make sure the proven veterans and stars get good contracts...we question giving them that money? When you look at the increase in the cap in outlying years, and then compare that to the increase in Peterson's outlying contract years, this is a very manageable contract.

Especially with the best cap guy in the business, Rob Brzezinski.

That's $11 million you can't put toward an offensive line or a secondary or, yes, a quarterback. If you know you're going to get a 2,000-yard season out of Peterson like you did in 2012, you would happily pay that extra $11 million. But you're more likely to get the typical Adrian Peterson season, like 2013's 279-1,266-10 line, which isn't far off from what somebody like Alfred Morris can do for $500,000. Every team would love to have Peterson. Very few want to commit nearly 11 percent of its salary cap to a running back, even one as good as Peterson.

Here's where I sit on this whole argument, especially if/when the salary cap goes up to $150 million: So what?  As it stands, right now today, the Vikings have Peterson under contract, and a lot of good, young pieces in place that give me reason to believe Minnesota will contend for a playoff spot this year. Even with AP's contract, they still were able to go get Linval Joseph and Coey Wootton in free agency. They were also able to get Captain Munnerlyn...a secondary guy. Oh yeah, they also drafted Teddy Bridgewater...a quarterback.  They also re-signed Matt Cassel...another quarterback.  So I think this is somewhat of a strawman argument that Barnwell constructed here, especially the QB position. You're not going to get a top rate guy like a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning in free agency. If Bridgewater pans out and they want to sign him to an extension, there will be more than enough money to do that, too. The last big name QB to get traded was Jay Cutler, and that's going on five years now. So trying to justify a trade of Peterson to get a quarterback that just won't be there in free agency makes no sense.

Finally, Peterson is more than cold, hard numbers.  He's the face of the franchise and he helps to sell a lot of tickets.  With theVikings getting ready to move into a new stadium in 2016, and with a lot of season tickets and associated PSL's attached to them, the Vikings need to give fans reasons to cough up huge chunks of money to justify the cost.

Adrian Peterson, in many ways, is the prime justification.