With a hefty non-guaranteed salary due to count $18 million against the salary cap, though, Peterson will have to find common ground on a restructured contract to continue playing in Minnesota.
Appearing on Thursday’s edition of ESPN’s First Take, Peterson stressed that he’s earned his way to the $18 million figure, but acknowledged the possibility the Vikings might opt to go in a different direction this offseason.
“If it doesn’t happen, a place where me and my family are comfortable. Just an opportunity to compete for a championship,” Peterson explained. “My main goal that I want to accomplish is go somewhere where I can win a championship. With that, having a good defense. A team that has a good offensive scheme as well. A great coaching staff, that really helps.”
The Giants could certainly use an upgrade in the backfield, but Peterson is ill-suited to the shotgun-heavy attack that Ben McAdoo ran in 2016.
Doug Martin‘s recent suspension voids the guaranteed portion of his $7 million salary for next season, which could lead the Bucs to explore alternatives at running back.
Any potential suitor will, of course, want to know how long Peterson plans to continue playing after averaging just 1.9 yards on 37 carries in an age-31 season that was sabotaged by a meniscus tear in his knee.
“I would say five more years, and that’s a number that I’m comfortable with in my heart playing,” Peterson said. “It has a lot to do with just being around my kids more is the reason I say five, but I definitely have five more strong years.”
It’s no surprise that Peterson believes he can join Hall of Famer John Riggins as the only running backs in NFL history to remain superstars into their mid-thirties.
Nearly four years ago, he predicted he would ultimately break Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record. Late in the 2014 season, he boasted that he was just entering the prime of his career. Because he takes immaculate care of his body, Peterson has long believed he could maintain his Pro Bowl form until age 36 or 37.
No matter where he plays in 2017, Peterson insists he will be “ready to roll at a high level.”