Extra Points: Is Jerry laying the groundwork for Adrian Peterson?

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is taken off the field after being injured in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, December 8, 2013. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is taken off the field after being injured in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, December 8, 2013. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

Adrian Peterson isn't even eligible to play football right now and he still remains the property of the Minnesota Vikings.

But Jerry Jones has already started laying the groundwork for a possible homecoming for the Texas native.


After a 12-win season that few saw coming, the usually lampooned Jones was selected as the 2014 NFL Executive of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America earlier this week.

Jones, Dallas' owner, president and general manager, is obviously a guy who is fond of titles and he can now add another to the resume as the first Cowboys staffer to earn the award in its 21 years of existence.

As a member of the PFWA, full disclosure forces me to admit that I didn't vote for Jones nor did I even consider him for the award and that was no oversight.

Jones was honored for taking the Cowboys to the next level after three straight 8-8 seasons. To his credit, Dallas captured the club's first NFC East title since 2009 and Jones made several successful personnel moves that helped the 'Boys reach the postseason.


Drafting stud right guard Zack Martin was a brilliant decision and signing underrated defensive end Jeremy Mincey in free agency was rock solid, as was trading for talented linebacker Rolando McClain, who had been on the scrap heap after retiring on two different occasions.

Think about those high-profile moves, though.

Even if you give Jones credit for Mincey, he reportedly had to be restrained by his son on his way to taking Johnny Manziel instead of Martin during the draft, and the idea of swapping for the enigmatic McClain from Baltimore was born out of desperation only after Sean Lee went down with a torn ACL in the offseason.

Circumstance and a bit of good fortune doesn't necessarily equate to a solid, well-thought-out plan being implemented and coming to fruition.

Quite simply, Jones has never been a guy who makes prudent decisions on a consistent basis, at least dating back to his gin-fueled divorce with Jimmy Johnson.

Consider that Jones went into the season with a lame-duck coaching staff, headed by head coach Jason Garrett and a plethora of veteran coaches like defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan.


After bowing out of the playoffs in the divisional round to Green Bay, Jones was able to keep his most of his staff in tact. But he had to overpay, and he did lose the architect of the team's true strength, its offensive line.

Callahan, who was the OC in name only although he once actually was in charge of that side of the ball when Jones took the power away from Garrett, moved on to divisional-rival Washington, so Scott Linehan, the passing-game coordinator, could have the actual title (offensive coordinator) for the duties he performs.

If this all sounds like the "Cheers" episode in which Sam Malone (Ted Danson) gives everyone titles to make them happy, you have no idea.

Marinelli actually came to North Texas as the defensive line coach under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who piloted one of the worst defenses in NFL history in 2013. So Jones gave Marinelli the DC nameplate but didn't fire Kiffin, bestowing on him the ceremonial title of assistant head coach/defense.

The point of all this is that Jones is, to be kind, unpredictable, some might even say unhinged.


And that brings us to the free agent front, where both superstars Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray are eligible to test the waters with Jones only having the ability to place the franchise tag on one of them.

"Is it possible? Yes," Jones told the team's website this week when asked if both stars could be back in 2015. "But if you just look at it from the standpoint of dollars and cents, it probably doesn't look reasonable."

Bryant just completed his rookie deal with three straight seasons with 1,200 or more receiving yards and 12 or more touchdowns. In 2014, he led the NFL with 16 TDs through the air.

Murray, on the other hand, just had a season for the ages, winning the NFL rushing title and setting a new single-season franchise recorded with 1,845 yards. He also touched the football a mind-numbing 449 times as Dallas literally ran him into the ground with the knowledge it would likely be moving on after the season.

"It just is going to depend," Jones said. "What is the good news is, we're in a lot better shape under the cap than we've been at any time over the last two or three years."


So what does it depend on?

Jones can say whatever he wants, but the reality is that the Cowboys reportedly offered Murray a startlingly low offer of just over $4 million a year, basically an invitation to walk out the door.

"There's no timeframe," Jones continued. "We could easily be visiting about that immediately with them. Because we have them under contract, we can talk to them anytime. So really the order of our day, we've got a lot of work to do on our roster."

That work could lead Jones to Peterson, who is about to turn 30 and is owed $15.4 million next year.

"I think the elephant in the room is Adrian Peterson. If (Jones) feels like he's able to buy low on Adrian Peterson and he's reinstated, they've got their eye on that situation," NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on CBS Radio.

It's likely the former All-Pro is not going to be agreeable to any kind of restructured deal in Minnesota because he believes he was treated unfairly by both the league and the Vikings during his highly publicized child-abuse case in which he used a "switch" to discipline his son.

That means the Vikings' options are limited to paying Peterson, releasing him or convincing someone to trade for him, which would likely mean he agrees to a restructured deal in another city.


Peterson is from Palestine, Texas, and has admitted in the past that he has often thought about playing for the Cowboys at some point during his career. Furthermore he and Jones have even developed a bit of a personal relationship over the years which have caused some to cry tampering.

Dallas is about the only team Peterson would bend over backward for and agree to a restructure, an end game that would enable the Vikings to get some kind of a draft pick for the superstar and for Jones to get the apple of his eye.

Whether that's the right move, however, is another matter.


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