Vikings GM: No interest in trading Adrian Peterson
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) For the Minnesota Vikings, the biggest story of this draft probably won't be which players they take.
What happens, or doesn't happen, to Adrian Peterson will be just as intriguing and important toward their 2015 season.
Recently reinstated by the NFL from his suspension for the child abuse case he was involved in, Peterson has said he's uneasy about returning to Minnesota to resume his career.
And Vikings GM Rick Spielman doubled down Tuesday on the long-held organizational stance that they don't plan to trade him.
''I think Coach (Mike) Zimmer stated it pretty clear that we have no interest in trading Adrian Peterson, and we don't,'' Spielman said.
''Adrian made a mistake. He's paid the price for that mistake, but I think if our organization didn't believe in Adrian Peterson he probably still wouldn't be here today and that's from our ownership on down.
''We believe in Adrian Peterson, but also know that we're a pretty good football team with Adrian Peterson in our backfield as well.''
Those skeptical of Spielman's declarative statements point to 2013 when receiver Percy Harvin asked to be traded. Spielman said at the time the Vikings ''had no intent'' of trading Harvin, but wound up dealing him to Seattle.
So if there's another team that still seeks a featured running back after missing out on Georgia's Todd Gurley and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, the top two in the rookie pool, don't think the Vikings won't at least listen to offers for their 30-year-old star.
''Our position has not changed since all the statements we made down at the owners' meetings,'' Spielman said. ''Adrian Peterson is under contract. His suspension was lifted. We're looking forward to having Adrian Peterson back here as a Minnesota Viking in 2015 and that's the end of the story. That's it.''
The Vikings won't be in the market for a franchise quarterback, after an uneven-yet-promising rookie season for Teddy Bridgewater.
His confidence and composure, during a rocky season for the organization given the Peterson saga that unfolded before the home opener, was just as important as his completion percentage.
With the 11th overall pick, then, the Vikings will focus elsewhere.
Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes, Louisville receiver DeVante Parker, a former teammate of Bridgewater's, and Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff are all possibilities for the Vikings at 11.
Here are some key angles to know about the Vikings and the draft this year:
TRADE SPECULATION: While Spielman didn't want to entertain suggestions Peterson could be on the move, he didn't hesitate to make it known that pick No. 11 is available for the right offer. He has a history of deal-making on draft day and said his preference would be to move down on Thursday night and accumulate a few more picks later in the draft.
Spielman said he sees similar levels of talent between players ranked from 7-20 on his board, which increases the chances of him trading down.
''Looking forward to moving out of that pick if at all possible,'' Spielman said. ''I don't anticipate us moving up at this point, but I do hopefully would love to get an opportunity to move down and collect more picks.''
ABOUT THOSE RUNNING BACKS: In another case of good timing, this draft is deep with running backs in case the Vikings decide to deal Peterson and look for a replacement on the second or third day.
They could all be trumped by one of the dozen or more prospects widely pegged as worthy of selection in the middle rounds. David Johnson (Northern Iowa), Mike Davis (South Carolina) and David Cobb (Minnesota) are a handful of the names to consider.
SAFETY FIRST? The Vikings signed Taylor Mays and brought back incumbent Robert Blanton and special teams standout Andrew Sendejo, after drafting Antone Exum last year. They haven't settled on a safety to start next to Harrison Smith, however, and the draft has become an increasingly difficult place to find one.
Alabama's Landon Collins is projected as a first-rounder, but this is a thin group. Spread offenses have been taking some of the best athletes out of the secondary, either to wide receiver or linebacker.
''There is a screaming need for them,'' NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. ''But the colleges aren't developing the same way.''
TEAMING WITH ZIM: Zimmer is back for his second season as head coach, and Spielman said the familiarity will make their second draft night easier than the first.
''You've gotten to know what he likes and what he doesn't like,'' Spielman said. ''From that standpoint and that experience for a whole year to the point now where you could pretty much look at each other and know what you're thinking. That's a huge part and an extremely important relationship to have between a GM and a head coach.''
TWEENERS: Spielman said the Vikings have closely evaluated 13 players who are what he called ''tweeners'' - players who could play defensive end or linebacker.
Anthony Barr fit into that category last year when the Vikings grabbed him at No. 9, and he emerged as an impact player before getting injured. But it's not an easy task.
''There's more and more every year, 245 to 255-260 pounds,'' he said. ''Can he grow big enough to be a defensive end? Is he athletic enough to be a linebacker?''
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.
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