If Minnesota brings back Adrian Peterson next season, it won't be at his current asking price.
The Vikings on Tuesday announced that they will not exercise Peterson's option for 2017, meaning the star running back will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year launches on March 9.
With Peterson set to count an unruly $18 million against the salary cap next season, the decision comes as little surprise.
"Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization," said team general manager Rick Spielman in a statement. "We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward."
Peterson chimed in with a statement of his own, per ESPN, to indicate that a reunion remains a possibility.
"It's been a great 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings. They know what I bring to the organization as a player, with my work ethic and dedication. I spoke with Rick Spielman this past weekend. The door is still open to find some common ground. I understand addressing the offensive line is one of their main priorities this offseason. In the meantime, I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on. My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota."
Peterson told NFL Network earlier this month that he hoped to retire with the team that drafted him seventh overall in 2007, saying, "I've been there for 10 years plus. You think about all the relationships you build there, with the organization, with teammates. That's what you hate to depart from the most."
His cap hit, though, made any chance of a return highly unlikely at his current asking price. Spielman recently told reporters that Peterson, the team's all-time leading rusher, will "always be a Viking," but the truth is that 2016 could mark the end of his brilliant run in Minnesota.
Peterson is coming off an injury-marred season that saw him run for just 72 yards over three games before landing on injured reserve with a torn meniscus. He wasn't effective behind the team's woeful offensive line, but Peterson is just one season removed from plowing for 1,485 yards at a healthy 4.5 yards per carry.
Still, it's hard to imagine a suitor dishing out premier cash for a 31-year-old running back with a series of major knee injuries under his belt. Peterson's ability to recover from surgery is unmatched, but his next landing spot also boils down to fit.
Not a prototypical passing-down back, Peterson must find a team willing to de-emphasize the shotgun in favor of a run-heavy scheme that uses his gifts.
A club like the Buccaneers makes sense, where a team like the Giants would need to change what they do from the ground up. There's always the chance that New England could come calling after Peterson.
Spielman will certainly be asked about Peterson's future during his Wednesday news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Coach Mike Zimmer is scheduled to speak Thursday.
Just like that, Combine Week is off to a fast start.