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Acknowledging likelihood of pay cut, Peterson says he wants to stay with Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS--Adrian Peterson has put up a lot of big numbers in his career, but there's one he won't get. The Vikings running back is under contract for a non-guaranteed $18 million next season, an amount there's virtually no chance he will receive.

MINNEAPOLIS-Adrian Peterson has put up a lot of big numbers in his career, but there's one he won't get.

The Vikings running back is under contract for a non-guaranteed $18 million next season, an amount there's virtually no chance he will receive. Peterson, 31, hinted Monday that he might consider taking a pay cut while saying he wants to return for an 11th Minnesota season.

"I would love to finish my career here with the Minnesota Vikings," Peterson said the day after the Vikings concluded a disappointing 8-8 season. "So that's where my mind is."

To do that, Peterson likely would need to renegotiate his contract with the Vikings by the third day of the new NFL league year in March, when he is due a $6 million roster bonus and his base salary of $11.75 million would become guaranteed. Peterson could be released, and become a free agent for the first time in his career.

"There's the reality that there comes a point in time where, yeah, the best thing to do is take a pay cut, and it might be in the best interest of the team, as well," Peterson said about older players and the NFL salary cap.

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Peterson tiptoed around whether he indeed would be willing to take a pay cut. He didn't deny, though, about there being a need to address that.

"I guess with the number being so high you could speculate and say that's the case, but in due time I think we'll cross that bridge," Peterson said.

What wasn't high in 2016 was Peterson's playing time and yardage totals. A year after he became the second-oldest player to win an NFL rushing title, injuries limited Peterson to three games, and he gained a meager 72 yards on 37 carries.

Peterson suffered a torn right meniscus in Week 2 against Green Bay, underwent surgery and then missed 11 games. He returned to carry six times for 22 yards Dec. 18 against Indianapolis before sitting out the final two games of this season with knee and groin issues.

"Going into the Green Bay week (for the Dec. 24 game), I had a couple of things that popped up," Peterson said. "I didn't feel comfortable (playing), especially being a month and a half, two months early with my meniscus injury (recovery)."

Peterson, who said the typical recovery time for his injury is four to six months, does not think he returned too soon. He said, though, that being out three months and then coming back strong for practice led to his groin injury.

"It was that Friday before the Colts game that I felt the adductor (groin muscle) and got some treatment on it," he said. "It felt a lot better on Saturday. I don't think I rushed it back from the standpoint of protecting the meniscus. It was just unfortunate that little things occurred that slowed me down."

Peterson said his meniscus was 90 percent torn, which necessitated a full repair. He could have returned sooner had the meniscus been trimmed, but said that would have led to later problems.

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"How I play the game, it could have been six months to a year before I was bone on bone," Peterson said. "With me knowing I have a lot left in the tank, it would have been crazy to cut off 90 percent of the meniscus."

So how much time does Peterson believe he has left in the NFL?

"I know that I have at least seven more years," he said. "In my mind, I'm thinking, if God's willing, I stay healthy, I'll play five more. And it's going to be at a high level. So that's the way I envision things going for me."

Peterson is 16th in NFL career rushing with 11,747 yards, including 2,097 in 2012, the second-most in a season. After gaining 1,485 yards in 2015, he entered this season hoping to break Curtis Martin's record for the oldest player to win a rushing title.

Peterson's knee injury played a role in the Vikings losing eight of their final 11 games after a 5-0 start - and failing to make the playoffs. They finished last in the NFL in rushing with an average of 75.3 yards per game, averaging 3.2 per carry.

Many of his Vikings teammates don't want to see him wearing another team's uniform next season.

"That will be weird for everybody," said running back Jerick McKinnon, who gained 539 yards as Peterson's primary replacement.

"That would be very strange," said fullback Zach Line. "Since growing up, I've watched him with the Vikings. So that's how I've always envisioned him."

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Peterson said he hasn't really thought about the possibility of becoming a free agent. He remains committed to returning to the Vikings.

"I've been taking in a lot here the past couple weeks," Peterson said. "Just the fans here. ... We have some great things going on here in Minnesota. I would love to continue to be a part of that. ... I'm not just going to write myself off here in Minnesota."

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