MINNEAPOLIS -- We've looked at the highlights of Adrian Peterson's restructured contract with the Minnesota Vikings, but now that the deal has officially been filed with the league, let's examine the deal -- and its cap ramifications -- in a little more detail.
Exactly how much money Peterson will lose as part of his 2014 suspension is still subject to the NFL and NFLPA's ongoing battle over how his discipline was handled, but the running back will start seeing cash in his bank account soon. He's due a $2 million roster bonus on Tuesday - the third day of training camp -- and will earn a fully-guaranteed base salary of $11 million, in addition to his $250,000 workout bonus.
(The Vikings have paid Peterson the bonus in the past, even when he hasn't been a full participant in organized team activities. It goes to show the bonus is as much of a goodwill gesture as anything else. It goes to show all the hand-wringing over whether Peterson attended all of the Vikings' OTAs was ultimately moot.)
Peterson's cap number technically rises by $250,000 in 2015, to $15.65 million, counting his workout bonus and the $2.4 million bonus proration he had left from his previous deal. He'll see the same $250,000 cash increase, over what he was originally scheduled to make.
As we discussed earlier this week, 2016 is really the meat of the deal. Peterson's cap number for 2016 is currently only $11 million, or $4 million less than it was previously scheduled to be, because his $5 million roster bonus is currently considered to be $3 million for cap purposes, and will rise to only $5 million if Peterson hits certain escalator clauses. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Peterson can earn another $1 million if he rushes for 1,750 yards and the Vikings win a divisional playoff game. Peterson can bump his salary by $2 million if he runs for 1,900 yards and the Vikings win the Super Bowl.
Conversely, the bonus would drop to $4 million if he doesn't run for 1,550 yards or the Vikings don't win a playoff game in 2015. It would fall back to $3 million if Peterson doesn't run for 1,350 yards or the Vikings fail to make the playoffs in 2015, though Peterson can earn $1 million back if he runs for 1,550 yards and the Vikings win a playoff game in 2016. If the bonus drops by $2 million, Peterson can get $1 million back by running for 1,350 yards and the Vikings making the playoffs. He'd get the full $2 million back with a 1,550-yard season and a Vikings playoff win in 2016.
Peterson's base salary for 2016 is $7.75 million -- $7 million of which is guaranteed for injury. That amount will become fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2016 league year, the same day Peterson is due his roster bonus. He can also get a $250,000 workout bonus in 2016. Essentially, the Vikings are betting on a big year, and a major payoff, from Peterson's return, and they're incentivizing him to help them win now.
Nothing about Peterson's 2017 salary is guaranteed, though he would be due a $6 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year. His base salary would be $11.75 million, and he'd earn a $250,000 workout bonus.
It's probably smart to look at this deal as three one-year contracts, since the Vikings have decisions to make on Peterson by the third day of the league year in both 2016 and 2017. Such deals are typical in the province of a 30-year-old running back, though Peterson certainly can make plenty of money if he does as he plans and bucks the trend of running backs slowing down in their 30s. Peterson said in a statement on Tuesday the deal gave him more opportunities to prove himself in the NFL. Those standards are high, but the payoff is lucrative should he reach them.