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Vikings Altered Plans on the Fly to Land Patrick Peterson


Patrick Peterson's first steps toward the field from the Vikings locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium will be past shields that adorn a wall in the Delta Sky 360° Club.

A club of the same name in the Atlanta airport is connected to Peterson signing with Minnesota.

Vikings General Rick Spielman was sitting there on his way back from scouting draft prospects at the University of Georgia's Pro Day, which fell on the same day as the beginning of the new league year and free agency.

Spielman and the Vikings personnel department met multiple times to plan for what could happen during free agency but reacted on the fly to change plans.

"It's amazing how things come together during free agency, and his agent, Joel Segal — who is one of the best, if not the best in the business — actually had given me a call," Spielman explained Monday morning before introducing Peterson to Twin Cities media members in a virtual session.

Peterson's pedigree — the No. 5 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft out of LSU — and performance — three All-Pro First-Team selections by The Associated Press and eight consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl (2011-18) — have made him a household name. The accolades also led to Peterson's categorization as an elusive proposition in the minds of many personnel departments, including the Vikings.

"Naturally, we have looked at Patrick. We have talked about him during our free agency meetings, but didn't think we would have a legitimate shot," Spielman said. "And then, next thing I know, I talk to [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Rob Brzezinski — 'Can we figure this out to make it work from a cap-planning standpoint? But most importantly, we need to get this player on our football team.'

"Joel and Rob were able to make that work; I think this thing came together in about two hours," Spielman added. "I talked to Patrick on the phone, I had [Head Coach Mike Zimmer] talk to Patrick on the phone, and I sent him our recruiting video. By the time I landed from Atlanta that night, this thing was done and agreed to."

View photos of new Vikings CB Patrick Peterson who recently joined the team.

Donning a purple suit with a shiny silver lapel pin as he visited Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, the 30-year-old explained his first foray into free agency after 10 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

"I was pretty calm. I'm the type of guy that goes with the flow. I knew I would be playing for a football team, just didn't know who," Peterson said. "And at the end of the day, I control what I can control, and what I had to control was the film that I put on tape last year; hopefully it was good enough for someone thinking I could come in and help their team win ball games.

"Rick and Coach Zim' know that I have a lot left in the tank, they know that I can come help this team win ball games and help get this thing back in the right direction," Peterson added.

While there was some chatter that the Vikings — or another suitor — might try to move Peterson to safety, he said the plan is to play cornerback.

Makes sense. He earned a cornerback position on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Team of the Decades for the 2010s after starting 154 games in the past 10 seasons.

"I believe the plan is me playing cornerback, and I believe, like Rick alluded to, I know that I have a lot left in the tank," Peterson said. "I feel that I still have a good position, as far as being in position to make plays at the cornerback position, so I know I can still play at a high level. So my position will be cornerback for sure."

Along those lines, Zimmer's history with cornerbacks was part of Peterson's evaluation as he considered landing spots.

"His reputation speaks for itself, and the things that he's able to do with the defense, not only with the defense but with defensive backs, speaking of Deion Sanders, Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Johnathan Joseph, the list goes on, and he's able to help further those guys' careers. And if you look at all those guys' careers, those guys played 13-14-plus years, so Coach Zim' definitely has something he's giving those guys to not only [take] their careers into new heights but also help their career … longevity as well.

"I just thought the culture around here, the atmosphere around here, was everything for me. It definitely checked off all the boxes," Peterson said. "I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to get rolling."

Peterson thanked the Cardinals for his time in Arizona, as well as the Vikings for "a fresh start, new scenery, fresh air" as he looks to extend his career.

So the Peterson family — which includes his wife, Antonique, and two daughters — has joined the Vikings family as an improbable but welcome addition after a year unlike any other.

Antonique is a medical doctor who has been on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Peterson credited his wife for the extra effort she's placed on keeping the family healthy.

"Going through this pandemic, we were on shutdown for like a month-and-a-half when it first started and everything started moving around. Then you had to wear a mask, and I have two daughters, a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old, so I have to make sure I stay extremely smart on the people that I bring into my house, where I'm going, my surroundings. It's just having each other's back. That's definitely something that's kept us healthy.

"Thank God no one in my household came into touch with COVID-19," Peterson added. "So just making sure that we're looking out for one another, making sure that we're taking all the proper steps into being safe. With my wife being a doctor, [she is] not giving us a 'cheat code,' but she's a little bit more hard on us about the virus versus someone that's not in the medical field. Mommy has definitely been keeping the Peterson household nice and safe."