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Adrian Peterson to hit free agency after Minnesota Vikings decline contract option

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson runs with

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson runs with the ball during the first day of training camp at Mankato State University in Mankato, Minn. on Friday, July, 29, 2016. Credit: AP / Andy Clayton-King

The Vikings will not exercise an option on Adrian Peterson’s contract, the team announced Tuesday, making the running back who has openly flirted with the Giants in the past few weeks a free agent as of March 9.

That’s when the Giants, or any team that is so interested, can sign the future Hall of Fame running back. And any team interested might very well include the Vikings themselves.

The team did not pick up the option because it would have required an $18 million salary cap hit for 2017, but the Vikings did express a desire to keep Peterson while making the announcement.

“Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization,” general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward.”

Peterson issued his own statement through ESPN.

“It’s been a great 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings,” he said. “They know what I bring to the organization as a player, with my work ethic and dedication. I spoke with Rick Spielman this past weekend. The door is still open to find some common ground.”

Peterson said in a radio interview in January that he looked at the Giants as a possible landing spot if he were to become a free agent (which he now will). Two weeks ago, after the Giants released veteran running back Rashad Jennings, Peterson posted a curious tweet in which he noted: “The Giants been making some interesting moves.”

Peterson is coming off an injury riddled season that ended with him on injured reserve with a torn meniscus. He ran for 1,485 yards and 4.5 yards per carry in 2015.

It’s unlikely the Giants will pursue Peterson, since his running style does not fit their system. They may, however, be lured into interest in him if his salary were to be more in line with what would be a diminished role sharing carries with second-year running back Paul Perkins and possibly Shane Vereen.

Peterson turns 32 in late March, so his age also could be a valuable asset in negotiations with the Giants. Signing Peterson likely would put him in the same window of remaining viable years with Eli Manning and could help produce another championship run.

That is what Peterson wants, he said in Tuesday’s statement.

“I will explore my other options and see what path God leads me on,” he said. “My main goal remains the same: to win a Super Bowl championship with a great team, which I also believe we have in Minnesota.”

Washington franchises QB Cousins

Kirk Cousins’ agent says the Washington Redskins have placed the exclusive franchise tag on the quarterback.

Agent Mike McCartney tweeted the news on Tuesday, one day before the deadline for teams to assign tags.

A few minutes after McCartney’s message, Cousins himself tweeted: “Tag! I’m it!”

Coming off a pair of statistically impressive seasons, and a nearly $20 million salary under the franchise tag last season, Cousins is now in line for a one-year salary of about $24 million. He also could wind up agreeing to a long-term contract.

Last season, Cousins broke his own franchise record for passing yards, nearly eclipsing 5,000, and set another team mark with more than 400 completions.

The Redskins lost four of their final six games to finish 8-7-1 and miss the playoffs.

Colts’ Parry arrested

Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman David Parry has been arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, on suspicion of assaulting the driver of a motorized cart and then stealing and crashing the vehicle. Police say the 24-year-old showed signs of impairment when arrested early Saturday morning near where the cart was found crashed. According to police, the driver had picked up Parry and two other people and that the alleged assault and theft occurred after the driver dropped off the other two people and got out to be paid. Police said they do not know if Parry has an attorney who could comment on the allegations of robbery, auto theft, criminal damage, resisting arrest and DUI. Colts spokesman Avis Roper said the team is gathering information. Parry was a 2015 fifth round draft pick.

Chiefs cut Charles, give Berry new deal

The Chiefs parted ways with four-time Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles on Tuesday, clearing more than $6 million in salary cap space by drawing the curtain on an unforgettable era. And that money was put to quick use as the Chiefs finalized a $78 million, six-year deal with All-Pro safety Eric Berry and signed offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to a $41.25 million, five-year extension. The Chiefs are finalizing a $78 million, six-year deal with Berry that will make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations tells The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the deal had not been announced.

New York Sports