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Spielman: Departing Adrian Peterson 'Will Always Be a Viking'

Posted Mar 16, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman announced Thursday during a conference call with reporters that Minnesota does not plan to re-sign Adrian Peterson.

Spielman said he communicated that information late the night before in a phone call to Peterson’s agent, sent the 2007 first-round draft pick a text and spoke with him Thursday morning. Spielman placed the call as extended negotiations with former Raiders running back Latavius Murray were coming to a close.

“I’ve talked to Adrian,” Spielman said. “We had a great conversation earlier today, and I know with us signing Murray that Adrian will move on elsewhere.”

Spielman said Vikings Ownership also spoke with Peterson on Thursday.

“Adrian is probably going to go down as one of the greatest Minnesota Vikings in team history,” Spielman said during the conference call. “He will always be a Viking, I know to our fans and to the people in this building, and he will always have a special place in this franchise. We are very fortunate that we were able to have predominantly most of Adrian Peterson’s career as a Minnesota Viking.”

Peterson was selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, the first after Spielman’s arrival in Minnesota.

The impact was immediate, with Peterson rushing for an NFL single-game record 296 yards in his eighth game and second of six times in which he rushed for more than 200 yards in a game. Peterson totaled 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie and followed with an NFL-best 1,760 in 2008.

Peterson led the league in rushing two more times: when he rushed for a remarkable 2,097 yards (second all-time) and was named NFL MVP in 2012 and in 2015 when he rushed for 1,485 yards and helped the Vikings win the NFC North.

In 10 seasons, Peterson started 116 of 123 regular-season games in 10 seasons, totaling a franchise-record 11,747 yards that ranks 16th in NFL history and second among active players behind Frank Gore (13,065—eighth all-time).

Peterson totaled 102 scores, including 97 on the ground, which is 10th all time.

The seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro was expected to climb the career lists in yards and touchdowns in 2016 but suffered a torn meniscus in Week 2 during the first regular-season game in U.S. Bank history. The injury cost him all but one game the rest of the way, despite an aggressive rehab, and Peterson finished with 72 yards on 37 carries. The Vikings released Peterson before free agency opened.

Murray, a sixth-round pick by Oakland in 2013, made it clear in an Instagram post that featured himself and Peterson at the 2016 Pro Bowl that he’s “not here to replace #28, he’s irreplaceable. I’m not here to be #28, there’s no one like him. I ask that you accept me for the player I am and know that I’m here to give you all I got and to win.”

Here’s the full post:

Murray was asked about the post during the conference call.

“When I saw that maybe this could be a team that I’d be playing at, obviously you think about those different scenarios,” Murray said. “You think about who’s wearing No. 28. And knowing that Adrian was there in Minnesota for so many years, and he wore that number, just as I said in my message, there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I [wouldn’t] think about trying to ask for that number or wear that number.

“For one, because I grew up watching the guy,” Murray said. “I’ve been a huge fan of everything that he’s done there, so it was something that I didn’t even need them to tell me, and everything worked out.”

Murray told reporters he intends to wear jersey No. 25 to honor the memory his friend, Jonathan Diaz, who played football and lacrosse at Murray’s high school near Syracuse, New York.

“I’m going to wear No. 25 to represent my best friend that passed away last year during Thanksgiving, during the season,” Murray explained. “That was one of his favorite numbers, so I’ll do that to remember him.”

Murray was able to sign with Minnesota after his first foray into free agency. It was a learning opportunity in multiple ways. He took care of online coursework for a Marketing Management class toward his MBA through Syracuse while his agent and the Vikings were engaged in negotiations on Wednesday night.

“Just happy to be a Viking,” Murray said. “I really appreciate this opportunity that I’ve been given here just to be able to play this game, just to continue my career. I obviously know it’s a business – I’ve learned that in these last few days – and I’m just glad I’ve been given this opportunity by this organization.”