Adrian Peterson-Mike Zimmer relationship still appears strong

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even as he's stayed away from the Minnesota Vikings' offseason program and vented about the way the team handled him after his indictment on child injury charges last September, Adrian Peterson has expressed his deep respect for coach Mike Zimmer, to the point where it seemed likely Zimmer would play a large role in the Vikings' efforts to smooth things over with Peterson.

From what we've been able to gather this week, that relationship remains strong even after Zimmer's comment on Wednesday that Peterson has "two choices -- play for us or play for no one." In fact, it's believed Peterson and Zimmer talked this week and smoothed things over following the comment, which stemmed more from Zimmer's fatigue over the topic than any effort to issue Peterson an ultimatum.

While some of Peterson's familiar reservations about returning to Minnesota still remain -- like the role of Vikings COO Kevin Warren in putting him on the commissioner's exempt list last September, and concerns about how he'd be received in a return -- the running back's relationship with Zimmer is still an asset to the Vikings. It was a meeting with Zimmer, after all, that led Peterson to drop his frustration with the firing of Leslie Frazier last spring, and Peterson's respect for Zimmer was the main reason he agreed to meet with the coach and general manager Rick Spielman at his home outside Houston in March.

The Vikings have made it clear for months that they're not planning to trade Peterson; the running back seems to realize that at this point, and as his statement to ESPN's Josina Anderson on Thursday would suggest, he's now focused on guaranteed money as the next-best option. Salary guarantees remain the NFL's only real mechanism to show appreciation, and there's little doubt Peterson is looking for the Vikings to put some backing behind their words of support from this spring.

The feeling here remains that Peterson will be in Minnesota this fall, and though it doesn't seem like there's been much movement yet toward a salary guarantee for the running back, it wouldn't be surprising if the two sides reach a compromise at some point. If and when Peterson comes back, he'd return to a relationship with the head coach that's still on solid footing.