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Offseason Forecast: Minnesota Vikings

With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Minnesota Vikings.

What's changing?

The biggest storyline for the Vikings is as clear as day: Will Adrian Peterson play another down in Minnesota? Sticking with, or moving on from Peterson undoubtedly impacts how the Vikings approach their offseason.

Minnesota struck gold in 2014 by making two moves: They hired coach Mike Zimmer, whose straightforward, no-nonsense approach has been a stabilizing force for the franchise. (He could be the reason A.P. ends up staying.) They also selected the quarterback of their future in Teddy Bridgewater with a draft-day steal.

The last time the Vikings made a splash in free agency, a helicopter was following the caravan carrying Brett Favre. Minnesota has minor housekeeping to do in order to retain talent, so look for them to address some holes via free agency. Just don't expect any big-ticket items.

Biggest free agents

» DT Tom Johnson: The reserve lineman was a pleasant surprise in 2014, playing plenty of snaps en route to 6.5 sacks. Johnson could be in store for a sneaky-good payday once the free-agent dominoes start falling.

» QB Christian Ponder: The writing has been on the wall for the 2011 first-round pick since Bridgewater walked through the doors in Minneapolis. The only question is: Will Ponder have a Bud Grant-like garage sale before he leaves Minnesota?

Other key free agents:Matt Asiata (RFA), Jerome Felton, Jasper Brinkley, Corey Wootton.

On the way out?

» RB Adrian Peterson: The organization said it "would welcome" the return of the generational running back -- but Peterson must first be reinstated by the NFL. Peterson emphasized he's still "uneasy" about returning to the Vikings. It doesn't sound like the 30-year-old, set to make $12.75 million, wants to suit up in Minnesota again.

General manager Rick Spielman said he expects Peterson to stay with the team, adding "he's gonna come back with a point to prove to everybody." A healthy, over-motivated Peterson is a scary thought.

» WR Greg Jennings: The 31-year-old is scheduled to earn $8.9 million while counting $11 million against the cap. The Vikings will have to acquire a better replacement if they end up severing ties.

» LB Chad Greenway: The two-time Pro Bowl linebacker had a disappointing, injury-filled 2014. On top of that, he has a back-loaded, $8.8 million contract. None of these are good signs for a player on the wrong side of 30.

What they need

Bridgewater needs to pick up right where he left off by improving on throwing the deep ball. Surrounding the franchise signal-caller with capable offensive linemen to keep him upright is imperative for his development.

Then there is the enigma that is Cordarrelle Patterson. He must regain his rookie-season form or the "bust" conversation will begin by October. If Patterson doesn't learn how to run a route tree, Charles Johnson, or someone else, will continue playing in his place. The Vikings are also in the market for a starting linebacker, as well as depth at defensive line and cornerback.

Offseason crystal ball

Minnesota uses the No. 11 pick to draft an offensive lineman, or connect Teddy Two Minutes with DeVante Parker, his college wide-out at Louisville. The Vikings restructure a deal to keep Greenway. Former Hard Knocks-hero Mike Zimmer ends up on the HBO series once again -- this time as the lead protagonist. Adrian Peterson gets reinstated by the NFL and plays Week 1 in a Vikings uniform.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down all the latest from the combine and gives updates on Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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