The club did not exercise its contract option on Peterson, which will make him an unrestricted free agent next week, although both club and player have indicated that he could remain in Minnesota with a new contract. No matter what happens, the 2017 NFL Draft has all the running back talent a team could ask for. Vikings GM Rick Spielman said it's the strongest draft class of running backs he can remember.
"I would say it is. I don't remember this amount of running backs coming out," Spielman said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We just got out of our draft meeting, and there is a significant amount of talent at that position. To be honest, I can't remember a year where the draft class at running back was this deep."
The group begins with big names such as LSU's Leonard Fournette, FSU's Dalvin Cook and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, but that trio only scratches the surface. The Oklahoma tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon offer plenty of potential, and Tennessee's Alvin Kamara -- who ranks as the draft's fourth-best back by NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock -- isn't to be overlooked, either. The draft is nearly two months away, however, and Minnesota's negotiation dance with Peterson is looming sooner.
Asked if it was a good year to need a running back in the draft, Spielman didn't concede the Vikings would.
"If you need one," he said.
Here are eight other things we learned Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine:
"There's no better time to take a young quarterback when you have a guy like Carson, who can help develop him," Keim said."... We know it's a QB-driven league, but you can't force the pick, either. You've got to like what you see on tape (and) off the field, because if you take a quarterback high and he doesn't pan out, it's going to set you back for years."
Keim and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said there are 4-6 quarterbacks available in the draft whom they find intriguing.
- Speaking of quarterbacks, Browns GM Sashi Brown isn't speaking in absolutes when it comes to speculation about QB Mitch Trubisky's height and the implications of his measurements. The former North Carolina star was listed at 6-foot-3 by UNC, but scouts have speculated he will measure shorter Thursday at the combine. To Brown, it's of little consequence.
"If he can play, he can play. Russell Wilson and others have been under what is the standard NFL profile," Brown said. "We want to understand that piece of it. It's an aspect of what we'll look at, and it does help to be able to see over taller offensive linemen, but that's not going to necessarily, on its own, disqualify him."
- As soon as LSU RB Leonard Fournette weighed in at the combine at 240 pounds, experts weighed in with opinions on it. Too big? No worries? It made for interesting Wednesday speculation, but whether Fournette can carry that much size will come into much better perspective Friday when he works out for scouts.
- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn't shy about the edge he has in evaluating prospects from Michigan, with brother Jim coaching the Wolverines: "Do I talk to Jim about those guys? Yeah. I have a pretty good handle on all of those guys based on what Jim thinks of those guys," Harbaugh said. Michigan has 14 players at the combine, more than any other school.
- While Fournette's weight was up, another of the draft's power rushers weighed in light. Texas' D'Onta Foreman, who was listed at 249 pounds in college, was significantly lighter Wednesday at 233 pounds. If the trimmed-down Foreman translates to more explosiveness and a better-than-expected clocking in the 40-yard dash Friday, he'll have a chance to distinguish himself at one of the draft's deepest positions.