Sep 10, 2011 at 10:01 am
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Adrian Peterson thinks he's the best running back in the game. Now he's getting paid like it, too.
Peterson agreed Saturday to a contract extension with the Vikings that includes $36 million in guaranteed money and as much as $100 million over the next seven years if he plays that long with Minnesota.
"It means a lot, man," Peterson said. "It shows from ownership and just this organization, that they recognize that. They recognize the (player) that they have. It means a lot. But money don't make you. It's hard work. Continuing to work hard and my focus is going to continue to be to help this team."
The deal came five days after the Vikings locked up linebacker Chad Greenway(notes) to a lucrative long-term contract, the latest in a line of millions of dollars doled out to top players by owner Zygi Wilf since he and his family purchased the franchise in 2005.
Peterson has begun the final year of his rookie deal on a $10.72 million salary and was in prime position for a big pay day. After setting the NFL's single-game rushing record with 296 yards against San Diego in 2007, Peterson has been picked for the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons. He's already second in Vikings history behind Robert Smith with 5,782 yards rushing for his career, and his 54 touchdowns over the last four years are the most in the league over that span.
"Adrian loves playing for the Minnesota Vikings," his agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "Deep inside he wanted to finish his career with the Minnesota Vikings."
There was some doubt about whether Peterson wanted to stay with the Vikings, who are coming off a disastrous 6-10 season and aren't being labeled Super Bowl contenders this season. But Peterson lauded the organization, particularly Mark and Zygi Wilf, who told both Peterson and Greenway early last season that he was going to keep them in Minnesota.
"He said 'I want to make sure you guys are going to remain Vikings for your careers,'" Peterson said. "He stayed true to that today. He stayed true to his word."