- Ben Goessling, ESPN Staff Writer
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— graeme smith (@smith_stuff) May 28, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: Good morning, everyone. Hope you're enjoying your Saturday -- it's been another nice, quiet week for the Vikings, huh? Adrian Peterson questions, not surprisingly, filled up the mailbag this week, so I figured we'd start here. From what I've been able to gather, there hasn't been any significant movement yet toward a restructured deal that would result in some guaranteed money for Peterson. In some ways, I think the Vikings would want to get Peterson back in the building and see where he's at before going down that road. And if Peterson is going to be here in 2016, it would ideally be at a lower cap number. That might mean less money for Peterson next year -- would he be willing to come back, mend fences and revisit his contract once the relationship is on sturdier ground, or would it take a financial guarantee just to get him back in the building? That still remains to be seen, but here's what you need to know about the Vikings right now: Much of what they're doing is with an eye toward 2016, when they're going to move into their billion-dollar new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. I don't know that they'd still be bothering with Peterson if they didn't plan on having him around at that point. The Vikings' typical m.o. with veterans has been to guarantee part of their base salary in exchange for a reduction to the overall number. As far as I can tell, we're nowhere near that getting done right now, and based on Peterson's tweets from Thursday, he's probably looking for a guarantee without a salary reduction. When this all cools off, though, I wouldn't be surprised if we wind up exactly where your question suggests we will.
#VikingsMail what does the Vikings cap look like for next year
— zach sween (@1Sween) May 28, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: According to ESPN Stats & Information (which is assuming a $150 million cap for 2016), the Vikings would currently have about $18.5 million of cap space. You've got to figure a contract extension is coming for Harrison Smith (and possibly Matt Kalil), but those deals wouldn't have to hit the books until 2016, and there's potential to rework deals for players like Brian Robison, Peterson and maybe even Mike Wallace, who has an $11.5 million cap figure, with no guaranteed money, in 2016. The Vikings have some decisions to make on some pending free agents between now and next March, but they should be in decent cap shape, as they typically are.
— James Riedel (@JamesMRiedel) May 28, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: @GoesslingESPN: One more on Peterson and then we'll move on. It might seem to set a bad precedent for the Vikings to guarantee the salary of a player returning from suspension, but the reality is, stars get different treatment in the NFL. The alternative is the Vikings don't rework the deal and hope Peterson comes back without raising a fuss in the locker room around a young group of players. That might be an increasingly risky bet, considering how much Peterson vented about guaranteed money on Twitter this week.
Here's the best-case scenario for the Vikings, in my mind: They're able to convince Peterson he'll be taken care of if he comes back and plays well this year -- and remind him he has next to no leverage in the situation. Peterson is productive and cooperative in his return, and eventually agrees to drop his 2016 cap number in exchange for a guarantee in his base salary. The best-case scenario for Peterson (short of a trade, which probably isn't happening), of course, is that the Vikings decide to guarantee a large chunk of his 2016 base salary now, just to get him back in the building as a happy camper. My hunch is we'll eventually arrive at a compromise, though it might not happen when Peterson would like.
#VikingsMail truth to Fusco moving to the left side? If so, who do you pencil at RG? Can you take a greater risk at RG?
— Carl Marschall (@Fins2theRight) May 29, 2015
@GoesslingESPN: Brandon Fusco was working out at left guard during the Vikings' OTAs this week, and while Mike Zimmer said the Vikings had moved Fusco in part so T.J. Clemmings could continue working on the right side, the Vikings could have put Clemmings with the second unit if they didn't want to move Fusco. It certainly seems like Plan A for the Vikings is Fusco at left guard and Clemmings on the right side. That doesn't guarantee they'll stick with that alignment, but it certainly looks like they'll give it a good look this spring. Fusco being on the left side could be the quickest way to bring more help to Kalil after Charlie Johnson struggled last season. The Vikings want Kalil to have a left guard he can count on, and while Fusco's best work has been as a run blocker, he's smart and tenacious enough to help Kalil in pass protection. You'd certainly like to have Teddy Bridgewater's blind side well-protected, so there's probably a greater reason to go with an experienced player on the left side than on the right.
We'll wrap things up there for the day, and come back with another edition of the mailbag tomorrow. Thanks for the great questions, everyone. Enjoy your Saturday, and we'll talk tomorrow.