MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Adrian Peterson is about to feel what it’s like to be recruited again.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman plan to travel to Peterson’s home near Houston on Wednesday to meet with their disgruntled star running back, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because neither side was publicly discussing the process.
Peterson’s wife, Ashley, will also be part of the meeting in which Zimmer and Spielman will try to convince the 2012 league MVP that he should remain with the Vikings after missing almost all of last season while addressing child abuse charges in Texas.
It will be the first time Peterson will meet face to face with Vikings officials since September, and time is of the essence. The new league year, including trades and free agency, opens March 10.
The door opened for the sides to meet after a federal judge ruled last week that an arbitrator erred in retroactively punishing Peterson under the league’s new personal conduct policy even though Peterson whipped his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch before the policy change. The NFL increased the minimum suspension for acts of domestic violence from two games to six.
U.S. District Judge David Doty said the arbitrator failed in his duties and sent the case back to league. The NFL is appealing Doty’s ruling. It has removed Peterson from the suspended list and placed him back on paid leave, which allows the running back to meet with Zimmer and Spielman.
The case could also return to arbitration or be settled.
USA Today first reported the planned meeting.
Peterson has expressed displeasure with what he believes is a lack of support from key members of the Vikings front office throughout his ordeal. That, coupled with a possible desire by the Vikings to restructure a contract that is set to pay the soon-to-be 30-year-old Peterson $12.75 million next season, has put a strain on the relationship.
“I think it’s been very clearly stated that we want Adrian Peterson back,” Spielman said on Monday. “There’s no question about the talent. He’s a unique talent, and he’s under contract with us next year.'”
Peterson told ESPN last month that he felt “uneasy” with the team.
Spielman has declined to comment on the Vikings’ plans for Peterson’s salary, but the team has made several high-profile statements in the last two months in support of Peterson, including from Spielman, owner Mark Wilf and COO Kevin Warren.
No one has been more vocal in his support of Peterson than Zimmer, the straight-talker who only got to coach Peterson for one game in his first season on the job. Throughout last season while the legal process played out, Zimmer was the lone Vikings voice to regularly back Peterson.
Now he’ll have a chance to try to smooth things over between the organization and the face of the franchise.