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Zulgad’s 3-and-out: Peterson about to find out that past performance won’t be worth all that much

By Judd Zulgad

Adrian Peterson is likely in for a rude awakening, Glen Taylor has the right idea and Mike Yeo appears to be good fit (for now) in St. Louis.

The latest edition of three-and-out has arrived.

Item: Adrian Peterson tweets that the New York Giants have “been making some interesting moves” after they released wide receiver Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings.

Reaction: Peterson hasn’t even been released by the Vikings – that move is almost certain to happen before he is owed $6 million on March 12 – but the veteran running back knows his future likely isn’t in Minnesota and is trying to lay the ground work for where he will land.

This comes after Peterson named Houston, Tampa Bay and the Giants as potential destinations this offseason during an appearance on ESPN. Peterson, of course, would love to stay put with the Vikings and collect the $18 million he would be owed in 2017, if the franchise kept him.

If it hasn’t happened already, somebody from the Peterson camp needs to inform Adrian that no team is going to pay him (or any running back for that matter) anything close to $18 million, and that just because you have a big name, and an impressive resume, that doesn’t mean clubs are going to be lining up to pay you.

Jason La Confora of CBS Sports did a good job of spelling out what Peterson can expect and it’s going to be an eye-opener for a guy who is used to getting what he wants.

The other factor in all of this is that the divorce between Peterson and the Vikings should be amicable but you get the feeling it won’t be. Even though it was Peterson who was completely in the wrong in 2014, when he played in only one game before facing child-abuse charges, Peterson somehow was upset with the Vikings and wanted out of Minnesota.

It was the Vikings who went to great lengths to assure him he was still wanted and they even restructured his contract to his satisfaction. This came at a time when no one would have blamed the Vikings for jettisoning Peterson. You get the feeling that Peterson will depart Minnesota thinking the Vikings did him wrong.

That isn’t close to the truth.

Peterson led the NFL in rushing in 2015 – although his fumble in the playoff loss to Seattle was a big reason the Vikings’ season ended — but in 2016 he was limited to only three games in large part because of his latest knee injury. Peterson will turn 32 on March 21 and, despite his desire to play for several more seasons, the reality is that he’s nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career.

There was a time when a team like the Giants might have been thrilled to have a guy like Peterson interested in them. These days Peterson’s desire to land with a specific team will mean little unless he’s willing to accept a contract based on the team’s terms and not his.

Peterson has a lot going against him in addition to age. A running back’s ability to pass protect and catch the ball is very important in today’s game — Peterson is not very good at either — and the running back position isn’t one where teams want to spend all that much money.

In other words, Peterson is likely going to have to spend the rest of his career playing for love of the game and not big dollars, if he really wants to continue for the long term. If he doesn’t realize this already, the reality of his situation will become clear in less than a month.

Item: Wolves owner Glen Taylor tells Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press that there is no debate about whether the franchise would like another high draft pick or to grab the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“We’re all of the same mind, to get in, get the (playoff) experience,” Taylor said, also referring to president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden. “Just the winning of games to try to get there is worth it. Our guys can’t see anything positive about losing games. They must win games, and then if we can win enough to get into the playoffs, that in and of itself would be a major step for our young players.”

Reaction: In Thibodeau’s first season, the Wolves are 22-35 and 3.5 games behind Denver for the final playoff seed in the conference.

Ordinarily, I’m all for below-average teams missing the playoffs in order to get a higher draft pick, but after 12 consecutive seasons of missing the postseason, there is no upside to the Wolves continuing this trend.

The Wolves have top young talent with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and the injured Zach LaVine and, if things go according to plan (remember, these are the Timberwolves we’re talking about), Minnesota shouldn’t be far away from becoming a regular playoff participant.

Even with LaVine gone for the season because of a knee injury, Towns and Wiggins would benefit from having late-season wins mean something and making a brief appearance in the playoffs

I’m not naïve enough to think that’s going to happen — there are four teams ahead of the Wolves before you even get to Denver — but in a league where tanking is often the norm it’s correct to say this franchise isn’t going to benefit from having its season end after 82 games.

Plus, Taylor wouldn’t turn down the additional cash that flows in when your building is open for the playoffs.

Item: The Blues lost 3-2 to Buffalo on Saturday afternoon, but are 7-2 since former Wild coach Mike Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock behind the St. Louis bench.

Reaction: Last Monday marked the one-year anniversary of Yeo’s dismissal by the Wild and now he’s back coaching in the Central Division and having the type of success that John Torchetti experienced when he took over for Yeo and helped get the Wild back into the playoff picture.

Yeo had been the Blues’ coach-in-waiting this season, serving as an assistant to Hitchcock, but the process was accelerated when St. Louis struggled. So is Yeo a better coach than Hitchcock or a much better coach than he was in Minnesota?

The answer is probably not.

The amazing thing about this league is how much a new voice in the room can impact things and snap a struggling team out of its funk. That’s why five teams (Florida, the Islanders, St. Louis, Boston and Montreal) have made changes behind the bench since the season started.

On Tuesday, the Canadiens fired Michel Therrien and hired the recently fired Claude Julien (by Boston) despite the fact Montreal was in first place in the Atlantic Division.

Julien’s act had worn out in Boston, but the Canadiens’ brass was willing to bet it would be a breath of fresh air in Montreal.

It might seem goofy, but it’s also the norm in the NHL.

The post Zulgad’s 3-and-out: Peterson about to find out that past performance won’t be worth all that much appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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