Vikings 3-Time All-Pro Free Agent Wants Return to Minnesota

Minnesota Vikings

Getty Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (left) and head coach Kevin O'Connell have been mostly quiet so far in free agency.

The Minnesota Vikings haven’t made a torrent of moves like some other NFL franchises to this point in the offseason, but they have taken a measured approach to reconstructing their defense.

As the official opening of free agency arrived Wednesday, March 16, the Vikings face an interesting question in their secondary that factors heavily into their plan for the defensive unit overall — how to approach the free agency of cornerback Patrick Peterson.

For his part, the three-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowl defender has said publicly he would like to return to the team in 2022. Peterson spoke about his playing situation Wednesday on the CBS podcast “All Things Covered,” of which he is a cohost.

“I stand where I stood in December,” Peterson said. “I loved everything about Minnesota. At the end of the day, the ball’s in their court now if they want me back. I’m a free agent right now, and I have a couple teams that say that they’re interested, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple days.”

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Vikings’ Decision on CB Peterson May Come Down to Price

Patrick Peterson

Courtesy of VikingsMinnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson hit the free agent market on Wednesday, March 16.

Peterson landed with the Vikings last season on a one-year, $8 million deal after spending his first decade in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. Whether the 31-year-old returns to Minnesota in 2022 and/or beyond may boil down to how much money he is willing to play for.

The Vikings hit the offseason approximately $15 million over the salary cap. As of Wednesday, they had slid back under the required cap total by a few hundred thousand dollars, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“Just talked to cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald. Has #Vikings at $256,428 under cap counting Pierce release, Cousins extension, Hicks signing, Joseph tender,” Tomasson tweeted. “And they could hold off on signing Harrison Phillips. So the Vikings don’t have to do anything today if they don’t want to.”

Peterson’s 2021 valuation was $6.45 million, per Over The Cap, which is $1.55 million less than the amount he actually played for. A return to Minnesota in 2022 would presumably require the cornerback to take less this time around. Peterson did not address his willingness, or lack thereof, to take a pay cut during his podcast appearance Wednesday.

As far as production goes, Peterson was a middling defensive back last season, based on his Pro Football Focus grade of 63.0, which slotted him as more or less an average player at the position. Peterson started 13 games for the Vikings in 2021, tallying 45 tackles, five passes defensed and one interception, which he returned 66 yards for a touchdown.

Vikings Have Made Measured Offseason Moves Thus Far

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

GettyKirk Cousins will play at least two more years with the Vikings.

The most significant move Minnesota has made thus far this offseason was to extend quarterback Kirk Cousins an extra year, offering the veteran $35 million and a no-trade clause in 2023.

The Vikings also signed former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips to a three-year contract worth $19.5 million and former Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks to a two-year deal worth $10 million.

Should Peterson rejoin the Vikings this season, he will be reunited with Hicks from their time together in Arizona. The two were teammates in 2019 and 2020.

“Very reliable player,” Peterson said of Hicks during his podcast Wednesday. “Going to be where he’s supposed to be at all times, a tackling machine, a guy that plays with high energy.”

Minnesota also tendered restricted free agent kicker Greg Joseph at a price of just over $2.4 million and released defensive tackle Michael Pierce on Monday.

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